Hague String Trio: After the Darkness
The title, ‘After the Darkness’, derives from Elie Wiesel’s harrowing account of his experiences during the Holocaust and four of the composers featured perished in Nazi camps in 1944. Only Mieczysaw Weinberg survived, fleeing his native Poland, where his entire family was exterminated, to the terrors of Stalinist Russia. Little of these horrors is manifest in the six works included, composed before – László Weiner’s Serenade (1938) and Dick Kattenburg’s single-span Trio (1937 39) – during (the works by Klein and Krása, written in 1943 44 in Terezín) and after the Nazi’s ‘Final Solution’, Weinberg’s masterly if rather Shostakovian Trio dating from 1950.
The Hague Trio’s accounts of Klein’s Trio, Krása’s Passacaglia and Fugue and Tanec (‘Dance’, a miniature tone poem on the idea of dance) are nothing if not competitive with the best of their rivals (listed below). Their ensemble is as tight as their collective intonation is sure, and they bring a keen expressivity to these scores written under appalling conditions. Rival recordings tend to couple them with music by other ‘Holocaust’ composers, though Weiner and Kattenburg will be new names to most collectors. Kattenburg (1919 44), a one-time pupil of Willem Pijper, was for many years known only by a flute sonata until the chance location of a box of manuscripts in an attic in 2004. His compact Trio is a real find. Weiner studied with Kodály, whose influence is manifest throughout this charming Serenade.
If in Weinberg’s Op 48 The Hague Trio do not quite match the intensity of Gidon Kremer, Daniil Grishin and Giedrė Dirvanauskaitė (ECM), theirs is nonetheless a fluent performance, marginally faster, too. The Hague shave over two minutes off Ensemble Epomeo’s gripping account, their fleetness providing a rather different perspective on this vital music. It concludes a thought-provoking programme, captured in first-rate sound.