Concert Review: Kristallnacht Holocaust Memorial Concert
Kristallnacht Holocaust Memorial Concert
St James Theatre Foyer
Reviewed by John Button
On the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, an organised campaign of violence destroyed thousands of Jewish properties in Germany.
It is known as Kristallnacht, and this concert by the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand remembered those fateful nights.
It was also a fundraiser for the Centre and attracted a sizeable audience, but it also pointed up just how short Wellington is for an appropriate venue for a concert of this type. The Ilott Concert Chamber is no longer available, so the organisers made do with the upstairs foyer at the St James. It was adequate, I suppose, but the piano was barely good enough, sight lines were poor and the sound was a bit boxy.
Still, the musicians – a wide range of players from the NZ School of Music and The NZSO plus some well-known singers – gave us a widely varied programme by composers in some way connected to the Holocaust. None of them are household names, although, thanks to the efforts of Danny Mulheron, we have heard of Richard Fuchs, and the music of Boris Pigovat (The Holocaust Requiem) has been heard here. And Victor Ullman's opera The Emperor of Atlantis, while not heard that often, is part of 20th Century musical mythology.
Mieczyslaw Weinberg is enjoying something of a renaissance – at least in recordings – and the extract from his Cello Sonata, played by Lucy Gijsbers and Thomas Nikora revealed a late romantic composer worth exploring. Best of the rest from a long concert were the brief – and intriguing – glimpse of the Ullman opera, the Strings of Love by Pigovat, played on the unusual combination of viola d'amore, guitar and cello by Donald Maurice, Jane Curry and Inbal Megiddo, and, perhaps best of all, the String Trio by Gideon Klein, stunningly played by Yury Gezentsvey, Peter Barber and David Chickering.
There was a great deal of talking, via a faltering sound system, that added to the length of the concert, but most would have found all the musical extracts a rewarding experience on an important night of remembrance.