Notes and Editorial Reviews
This fascinating disc showcases the music of Grigori Krejn (1879-1957), a Soviet composer whose output remains to be explored but who clearly had a tremendous talent, as did his son Julian (1913-96). Both participated in the Jewish musical renaissance that flourished in Europe as part of the general trend toward expressions of Romantic Nationalism at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The most famous representative of this school of course is the Swiss composer Ernest Bloch, but the Jewish current in this mighty musical river transcended political boundaries, as did the various Jewish communities themselves.
Krejn's style, formed in the first decades of the
last century, owes perhaps a bit to Scriabin and a lot to French impressionism, producing a delicate, freely chromatic idiom that gives his two collections of Songs without Words for clarinet and piano a real sense of poignant nostalgia. The Rhapsody and Berceuse funèbre can't be said to treat any specifically Jewish thematic elements: they are simply good music. Krejn's son Julian takes up where his father left off in his brief Three Hebrew Songs without Words, the idiom being a touch sharper edged.
Israel Brandmann (1901-92) was born in the Ukraine but spent his early years in Vienna where he was a founding member of the Society for the Promotion of Jewish Music. His Variations on a Popular Theme (the Yiddish song "Her nor, Du scheyne Meydele") represents the biggest work here (11 minutes) and it's thoroughly charming, as are clarinetist Simeon Bellison's arrangements of four Hebrew melodies by various Yiddish folk musicians.
The program is both well chosen and well organized, providing a wide-ranging sample of musical styles and moods. Wolfgang Meyer, brother of clarinetist Sabine, plays with a gorgeous, liquid tone and plenty of spirit, and he's ideally accompanied by pianist Jascha Nemtsov. Top-notch recorded sound completes a disc that bespeaks great care in all aspects of production. It deserves the widest possible circulation among lovers of interesting and unusual chamber music. [3/16/2004]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Rhapsody by Grigori Krejn
Wolfgang Meyer (Clarinet),
Jascha Nemstov (Piano)
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