Musical anguish comes in many forms. Presented on this Chandos album are two large-form suites featuring music from documentaries that tackle the devastating effect on human life the Nazi Holocaust had through the experiences of survivors living in Argentina and Uruguay today.
Composers Daniel Tarrab and Andrés Goldstein, both Argentinean-born, help musically-support profoundly upsetting visual material whilst showing great reverence for the difficult subject and in doing so emphasise the important work the Shoah Visual History Foundation does in documenting the past. They thoughtfully combine traditional Klesmer instrumentation with more diverse instrumentation, such as the oft overlooked bandoleon, clearly demonstrating experienced command of the forces involved.
It is commendable that Chandos have chosen to release such an emotionally-charged album and donate proceeds from unit sales to the Shoah Visual History Foundation. Yet one must wonder how ‘creative’ individuals can be when faced with setting Klesmer music to such uncomfortable source material? To that end Tarrab and Goldstein should be greatly commended.
Finally, one issue with the album presents itself which I don’t believe is inappropriate to point out here, as it does not tarnish the good work that is represented. In order to achieve a level of continuity to the visual output produced by the Shoah Foundation, should one accept that composers use the musical treatment of Schindler’s List as a stylistic model from which draw upon, consciously or otherwise? (Those who pick up this album will know to what I refer) Yet, despite this minor criticism, the album remains a worthwhile and effecting listen.
Gary Dalkin adds:-
As Glen indicates, the main theme here bears an instantly identifiable and unmistakable similarity to John Williams' Schindler's List theme. Presumably this is deliberate, as the Shoah Foundation was set-up by Steven Spielberg in the wake of his making the aforementioned multi-Oscar winning film, and the CD booklet even contains notes by the renowned director.
One thing that is not at all clear from the booklet is the relationship between the two suites, each of roughly 27 minutes duration, which make-up the album. Clearly the first suite is the soundtrack to the film Some Who Lived, Algunos Que Vivieron, but just what is the Broken Silence Suite? Thematically the two suites draw on similar material, and stylistically the treatments are virtually interchangeable.
The Shoah Foundation website explains that Broken Silence is a documentary film series made in 2001 featuring five films by five distinguished international directors. Each film profiles one country’s experience of the Holocaust and the films were shown on and around Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2002. The countries represented by the films are Argentina, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia. For more information visit: http://www.vhf.org/static/broken_silence.htm
Presumably the Broken Silence Suite features music from the remaining four films. Whatever the source, this is a highly commendable issue, the music demonstrating the endurance of the human spirit by rising above almost unimaginable suffering to offer moments of great beauty and even tranquillity. A remarkable and most unusual achievement.