Marta Ptaszynska Holocaust Cantata/Accord C

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 6

Marta Ptaszynska grew up in Poland’s post-war era, and her upbringing was colored by harrowing accounts of World War II. The stories and memories she absorbed have strongly influenced her creative output. Her Holocaust Memorial Cantata represents a large-scale attempt to come to terms with a beastly historic legacy whose repercussions sincerely and deeply resonate within her artistic sensibility. That said, the cantata as a whole is curiously unsatisfying, in spite of some genuinely affecting moments: the lyrical dignity of the penultimate a cappella chorus “May I Become Less Than nothing”, and the nightmarish buildup of dissonant orchestral fragments in the opening movement. The trouble is that Ptaszynska’s stylistic allusions, from gnawing, neo-Pendereckian clusters to Bach-like counterpoint, proceed without the kind of fierce inevitability that a true polystylistic mind like Alfred Schnittke could summon at his best. The overall somber mood allows little if any contrast in tempo from one movement to the next. While the soloists and orchestral forces play with authority under Yehudi Menuhin’s leadership, one regrets that an English diction coach wasn’t brought in to work with the Warsaw Chamber Choir’s appalling pronunciation. The sound is what we might expect from a professionally recorded archival tape.



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Recording Details:

MARTA PTASZYNSKA - Holocaust Memorial Cantata


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