AUFBAU 66:11 June 1, 2000 p.13
Music from the Ghettos and Camps on Two CDs [Musical Treasures Memorialize the Holocaust on Two New Compact Disks] Review by Leonard Lehrman
Ghetto Tango : Wartime Yiddish Theater Adrienne Cooper & Zalmen Mlotek Traditional Crossroads 4297
Composers of the Holocaust Downtown Music Productions Mimi Stern-Wolfe, Artistic Director & Pianist Leonarda LE 342
The latest collaboration between capable vocalist Adrienne Cooper and inspirationally prolific pianist-arranger Zalmen Mlotek may be heard on the new album entitled Ghetto Tango in 18 attributed and unattributed songs of Vilna, Warsaw, Sosnow, Lodz, Börgemoor, Kovno, Krakow, a DP camp, and one setting by Kurt Weill of a Brecht lyric from "Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg."
They are robustly performed in a healthy mixture of German, Yiddish and English, mostly by Ms. Cooper, with an occasional vocal assist from the piano by Maestro Mlotek. "Peshe fun Reshe," the title song in Leyb Rozental's 1943 Vilna revue, is musically the most challenging--and interesting. But all are heartfelt and, by turns, gripping, bitter, darkly amusing, and inspiring. The research is impressive[, though a bit more might have been said about the complicated history of "Die Moorsoldaten."]
Even more impressive are the research and care behind the grab-bag of 13 numbers by a dozen composers on Mimi Stern-Wolfe's "Composers of the Holocaust," on which she accompanies mezzo-soprano Isabelle Ganz, baritone Robert Abelson, the Downtown Chamber Singers, and two instrumentalists in solo turns: Marshall Coid excels in Erwin Schulhoff's Sonata for Violin and Piano (1924) as does Bert Lucarelli in Pavel Haas' Suite for Oboe and Piano (1939).
Composer-lyricist Mordekhai Gebirtig, who is also represented on Ghetto Tango [but called "Mordkhe" thereon], sets the mood in the opening "Es brent," arranged by Lazar Weiner. The rest of the songs are arranged mostly by Ms. Stern-Wolfe, who also improvises a setting for Ilse Weber's Cradle Song in German. Except for a Terezin Hymn in Czech, everything else is performed in Yiddish. The result is a bit of a mishmosh, but in a good sense. The well-paced variety sets each number off from the others and facilitates not easy but good, thoughtful listening.
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