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Concert of Remembrance

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CONCERT OF REMEMBRANCE

The Terezin Collection--a sampler of four short works composed by eminent Jewish musicians imprisoned in the "model" concentration camp at Theresienstadt, near Prague--isn't a showcase of masterpieces. But the music interests us because it inspired the composers' fellow inmates during horrific hardships; it moves us because these musicians had the strength and grace to keep writing and performing under the threat of imminent death. The collection includes "In the Shadow of Your Wings," a string quartet by David GrŸnfeld and Zikmund Schul; an exuberant gavotte by Egon Ledec, who had been associate concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic; Viktor Kohn's "Praeludium"; and "Song Without Words" by Frantisek Domazlicky--the only one of the five who did not die at the hands of the Nazis. The Concert of Remembrance, a Ravinia chamber recital organized by Steven Honigberg, a cellist and the director of the chamber music series at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., opens with the Terezin Collection and goes on to offer four more works related to the Holocaust: Erwin Schulhoff's First String Quartet; "I Remember," a harrowing and poignant song about the life of Anne Frank by New York composer Michael Cohen; Robert Starer's "Song of Solitude"; and Moisei Vainberg's Piano Trio op. 24. (The last two are local premieres.) Vainberg, who fled Poland right before the German invasion in 1939, eventually settled in Moscow and studied under Shostakovich, mining his mentor's themes of war and genocide; this early trio dates from 1945 and overflows with echoes from the Jewish ghettos of eastern Europe. Starer too fled the Holocaust, from Vienna to Jerusalem; his contribution is a commemorative cello solo, to be performed by Honigberg. Schulhoff, a Jewish socialist who'd set The Communist Manifesto to music, unfortunately did not escape the Nazis (he died at WŸlzbourg in 1942); he was arguably the most gifted and versatile of the incarcerated Czech composers. Though his first quartet, composed in the mid-20s, sometimes sounds pedantic, it succeeds in melding Schoenbergian gestures with jazzy riffs to convey both fervor and despair. In addition to Honigberg, performers include mezzo-soprano Laura Tucker and violist Keith Conant. Tuesday, 7:30 PM, Bennett-Gordon Hall, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 847-266-5100. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Steven Honigberg photo by Christian Steiner.

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