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Ullmann - Variations and Fugue on a Jewish folk song

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by techneut, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    This is the last movement of Viktor Ullmann's 7th sonata. In fact the very last thing he wrote before his death.

    Czech composer Ullmann was one these composers of so-called 'Entartete Musik' whom the nazis had interred in camp Terezin, aka Theresienstadt. Life in this camp was relatively bearable compared to other camps. Many composers, musicians, writers, etc. were kept here who more or less received the freedom to do their things. There was even an orchestra which the camp commanders liked to show off to visitors to prove they were not at all repressing and killing people. Ullmann composed a fair amount of music works during his years here, as did some other composers. The manuscripts have somehow been preserved. In october 1944 however, shortly after completing this piece, Ullmann was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and died in the gas chamber the day after his arrival.

    Inevitably, these tragic circumstances color one's perception of this piece and make it all the more poignant. But even without that, I'd find this a gripping, powerful, and affecting work with its desperate B-A-C-H quotes in the fugue. I hope my commitment comes through the performance, despite a handful of tiny fluffs.

    Ullmann - Sonata No.7 - 5: Variations and Fugue on a Jewish folk song (7:27)
     
  2. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris, a wonderful musical tribute to the memory of a great composer who's candle was extinguished far too early under the most inhumane of conditions. Under such circumstances, Ullmann's apocalyptic view clearly permeates the entire work. It doesn't sound easy, but it seems you've captured the essence of the composers last thoughts in a musically and technically convincing fashion. You have ceremoniously relighted Ullmann's candle through this fine recording.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thank you George. I'm quite happy with this recording even despite some problems in the fugue. The writing here is rather awkward in places... but I guess this is not music meant to sound smooth. The combination of anguish, resignation, and defiance really strikes a chord with me.

    About relighting Ullmann's candle - for me that honour goes to Eri Mantani whose splendid live recording on Youtube hooked me on this piece. There's another two recordings on Youtube (one is only the fugue) but neither comes anywhere near Mantani's intensity.

    I am not sure yet whether I will play more by Ullmann. The other movements of the 7th sonata sound very much like Prokofiev meets Martinu, without having the urgency of this last movement. He's a composer worth the effort though.
     
  4. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Bravo, I think this is very well played. I find especially the fugue very interesting, though I have the impression, that the severe technique of fugue-composition is interrupted from time to time. Very cleverly built is the BACH-quotation. A great work.
    Congratulations to this splendid performance. (I like this style more than Kapustin.)
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thanks :D
     
  6. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Thanks for introducing me to this composer. The piece is quite interesting and well played.

    Scott
     

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