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A Yiddish Winterreise

MALCOLM MILLER reviews a concert
to commemorate Holocaust Day


An imaginative reinterpretation of Schubert's classic song cycle Der Winterreise formed a moving and uplifting concert to commemorate Holocaust Day. It was devised and performed by the bass baritone Mark Glanville with special piano arrangements by Alexander Knapp. The première took place at Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, London W1, UK, on Sunday 28 January 2007, presented by Jewish Music Institute and Central Synagogue before an enthusiastic audience.

The evening was introduced by Geraldine Auerbach, Director of the Jewish Music Institute and by Raban Richter, a German Embassy cultural attaché, who acknowledged the responsibility of the younger generation, his own generation, both to understand and learn from the history of the Holocaust, and to ensure that such events would never occur again. As Mark Glanville himself explained in his programme note, the underlying concept was an exploration of the paradox of the German-Jewish experience in the context of the Holocaust.

Mark Glanville
Mark Glanville

Schubert's masterly song cycle picks up where the poet of Die Schöne Müllerin breaks off, and deals with the harrowing emotional suffering of the poet-lover as he leaves his faithless beloved and is confronted with the bleak, cold winter that reflects his interior moods of loss and despair, as well as the memories of happier times. 'Der Leierman', the final song, depicts his leaving with the hurdy-gurdy man, a symbol perhaps of the eternal outsider and the constancy of the spirit. In Glanville's version, Schubert's lover-poet becomes a Yiddish wedding singer, or 'badkhn', whose twenty four songs begin and end with unaccompanied melodies, the first a wedding song 'Khosn Nazingns' (ascribed to the veteran Yiddishist Mayer Bogdanski), and the last, the 'kaddish' (mourner's prayer), in a traditional Ashkenazi prayer mode.

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Copyright © 7 February 2007 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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