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Composers From Theresienstadt - Hans Krása: Brundibár

Release Date: 08/19/1993 
Label:  Channel Classics   Catalog #: 51932   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hans KrásaFrantisek Domazlicky
Conductor:  Joza Karas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Disman Children's Radio Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 42 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The successful launch of Decca's Entartete Musik project should not obscure the dedicated work of smaller companies working in a similar field. For some time, Channel Classics have been disinterring much worthwhile music composed or performed in Theresienstadt, the notorious ghetto city established by the Nazis from 1941 and used in the main as a transit camp for Auschwitz. The Hawthorne Quartet, who so impressed with their Klein and Ullmann coupling (12/91), will also be participating in the Decca project with quartets by Hindemith and Krasa. Meanwhile, Channel Classics have stolen a march on their rivals with the present issue, and any future recording of Brundibar will have to be very good indeed to trump the work of Joza Karas and his Read more Czech team.

It is hard to be objective about what is after all an essentially lightweight children's opera. Composed in 1938, Brundibar was subsequently reconstituted for performance by the musicians available in Theresienstadt. There it received as many as 55 performances and acquired unlikely resonances as it entered the group consciousness of the incarcerated deportees. Thousands of children passed through. How many who perished in the camps must have hummed Krasa's hit tunes?––the notes assure us that the score used here is very much the one they would have heard. The much-praised Czech TV recording available on Romantic Robot involves a larger complement of strings and creates a rather different effect: close-miked, bold, romanticized and 'commercial' in a way that I at least find less than affecting. Under Karas, cool, literal and idiomatic, the purely musical qualities of the score are more readily apparent. The genre is an inventive amalgam of popular Czech elements from Janacek, Martinu and Weill, and it is perhaps the veiled allusions to the famous Dvorak Humoresque (track 1, etc.), Petrushka (track 6) and Verklarte Nacht (track 9) which most clearly point up Krasa's own subversive pre-war personality. The only real drawback comes with the opulent packaging. To provide full librettos in (American) English, French and German without correlating them with the original Czech seems like a missed opportunity, and the inaccurate track listing for the Second Act makes it difficult to get your bearings in any language. The Czech song arrangements by Frantisek Domazlicky (with Karel Ancerl, a rare survivor of the camps) are an ungenerous bonus, executed without the high polish accorded the main work though not without their own quiet charm. There are no texts.

-- Gramophone [8/1993]
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Works on This Recording

Brundibár by Hans Krása
Conductor:  Joza Karas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Disman Children's Radio Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; Germany 
Venue:  Prague, Czech Republic 
Language: Czech 
Czech Folksongs (8), Op. 14 by Frantisek Domazlicky
Conductor:  Joza Karas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Disman Children's Radio Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; Czech Republic 
Venue:  Prague, Czech Republic 
Language: Czech 
Notes: This selection is a set of folksong arrangements for children's chorus and string quartet. 

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