This episode of The Choral Mix presents deeply emotional themes. Words from the war front, from soldiers, from the home front of their loved ones. Words from the holocaust: the Diary of Anne Frank, and the engrossing power of the great poets on musicians.
We begin with Paul Moravec’s Songs of Love and War. These are settings of letters of American servicemen and their loved ones. "Dearest Rowland" is based on a handwritten note by Marjorie Gaunt, a wife of a serviceman fighting in World War II. At the time of writing this final testament of love, it was unknown to Marjorie that her beloved Rowland, had recently died in battle.
Also from Songs of Love, "Don't Ask" is based on a text by a New Yorker, Private George Jay Robinson. Robinson wrote, "Don't ask questions when I come home, if I feel like talking about it, I will, but otherwise, don't ask." Moravec's use of the orchestra throughout this baritone solo intensifies musically the reluctance and pain that Robinson's words allude.
British composer and conductor James Whitbourn breaks new ground on a familiar subject. Whitbourn is the first to compose a major choral setting of the Diary of Anne Frank. It is a seminal work called Annelies, which is the full name of the brave young, Anne. The work is a relatively recent composition and this is a new recording on the Naxos label. The work is scored for choir, soprano and chamber orchestra all which work together to produce a profound musical and personal experience. In the liner notes, Whitbourn explains, “all the instruments are associated with the Jewish tradition and culture and while there is no actual quote of traditional Jewish melody,within Annelies, I have often drawnon the melodic contours and expressions in my phrases.”
Theofanidis/Messages To Myself
Musica Sacra, Kent Tritle
Whitbourn/Annelies/Westminster Williamson Voices, The Lincoln Trio, James Jordan/Bharat Chandra, Clarinet
The Capture foretold
The last night at home and arrival at the Annexe
The hope of liberation and a spring awakening
The capture and the concentration camp
Moravec/Reflections/ The Dessoff Choirs, Kent Tritle
Songs of Love and War