The yiddish cabaret - Korngold / Schulhoff / Desyatnikov

Hila Baggio, soprano / Jerusalem Quartet

Harmonia Mundi, 2019

Erwin Schulhoff : Five pieces for string quartet
Leonid Desyatnikov : Five Yiddish songs of cabaret for vocals and string quartet : Varshe – In a hoyz vu men veynt un men lakht – Ikh ganve in der nakht - Yosl und Sore-Dvoshe – Ikh vel shoyn mer nit ganvenen (arrangements)
Erich Wolfgang Korngold : String quartet n° 2 op. 26

The disc’s program is the result of a work by the Jerusalem’s Quartet around the music of Yiddish cabarets in Poland between the two world wars. For nearly two years, the four musicians, assisted by the musicologist Gila Flam, started doing research in the archives of Jerusalem’s National Library. After a long task of selection, they held back five Yiddish songs that were sung in the Jewish cabarets of Warsaw and Łódź between 1919 and 1939. The first one is a nostalgic song about Warsaw (Varshe), the second one is a parody of an American song which tells about the fate of a Jewish prostitute (In a hoyz vu men veynt un men lakht). The third (Ikh ganve in der nakht) and fifth song (Ikh vel shoyn mer nit ganvenen) come from the repertoire of Yiddish « thiefs songs » of the Jewish mob. The fourth song (Yosl und Sore-Dvoshe) is a duet between a man and a woman who live in poverty but dream of having a big family and live happily in a big town.
These five songs served as the « raw material » for a creation by Israeli composer Leonid Desyatnikov (1955) who made an adaptation for vocals (performed here in Yiddish by the Israeli soprano Hila Baggio) and string quartet. As it is precised by Desyatnikov in the booklet of the disc written by Gila Flam : « This cycle is a serie of free transcriptions for this music, commonly qualified of « low value ». It’s the eclectic culture of the proletarian and foreign, the culture of the cheap posh, and, in the same time – in its best ways –, an insolent and talented culture, full of self-irony and of waiting despair. » Gila Flam adds that « the Jewish musicians and performers played a leading role in Poland’s popular music, contributing in helping widening the repertoire of Polish and Yiddish songs. With this, they influenced all the European cabaret’s music as well as Hollywood’s film music, and music of theatres on Broadway in America. »

And it is precisely in Hollywood that the Jewish composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) did most of his carreer. Born in Brno in Austria-Hungaria on the 29th of May 1897, child prodigy, sometimes compared to Mozart, he is one of the last representatives of Viennese romantism. In 1925, he is the most played composer after Richard Strauss in the German speaking countries. In 1934, he makes a first trip to the USA, where he writes essentially film music for Warner Bros company. After a short return to Vienna in 1937, he settles down definitively in 1938. During twelve years, he writes eighteen film music, two of them (Anthony Adverse and Robin Hood) awarded with Oscars.
His string quartet n° 2 op. 26, in four movements, was composed in 1933 and created in Vienna by the Rose quartet on March 16th 1934, just before the composer left for the USA. According to Jerusalem’s string quartet, this work by Korngold expresses his deep nostalgia of Central Europe’s musical traditions.

The last piece of music of this disc – slightly eclectic – is from the Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942). Born in Prague in 1894 in a Jewish family, Schulhoff was very early noticed and encouraged by Dvořák. His style is characterised by a mix of atonality, of surrealism and popular repertoire. Arrested by the Nazis on June 22nd 1941, he will be interned in the Wülzburg’s fortress, in Bavaria, where he will die of tuberculosis the 28th of August 1942.
His Five pieces for string quartet (1923), dedicated to Darius Milhaud, were performed for the first time in Salzburg on the 8th of August 1924. They form a succession of dances (waltz, tango, tarentella…) which take their inspiration from popular music of the time.

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This program will be performed on Wednesday November 27th 2019, at 8h00 PM, in the théâtre des Champs-Elysées – Paris 8e.
Learn more about the concert

Korngold - Intermezzo (Quatuor à cordes n° 2) (Extrait)
Schulhoff - Alla Tarantella (Cinq pièces pour quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)
Desyatnikov - Varshe (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)
Desyatnikov - In a hoyz (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)
Desyatnikov - Ikh ganve in der nakht (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)
Desyatnikov - Yosl und Sore, Dvoshe (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)
Desyatnikov - Ikh vel shoyn mer nit ganvenen (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)

Listen to

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  • Korngold - Intermezzo (Quatuor à cordes n° 2) (Extrait)

  • Schulhoff - Alla Tarantella (Cinq pièces pour quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)

  • Desyatnikov - Varshe (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)

  • Desyatnikov - In a hoyz (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)

  • Desyatnikov - Ikh ganve in der nakht (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)

  • Desyatnikov - Yosl und Sore, Dvoshe (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)

  • Desyatnikov - Ikh vel shoyn mer nit ganvenen (5 chansons de cabaret yiddish pour voix et quatuor à cordes) (Extrait)

Lire tout

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