Record Review 

Subtitled "Music of the Holocaust," Mystic Chords is a compilation of music written by Jews incarcerated in Nazi death camps during World War II. Their stories make for touching and compelling reading in the liner notes. Most are little-known voices. Two of the composers, Viktor Ullmann and Pavel Haas, students of Schoenberg and Janacek respectively, might have been famous names in music had they lived.

The works recorded here are a tribute to the resiliency of the human spirit under the most difficult conditions imaginable. It is amazing that so few of them exude a spirit of despair, depression, or even anger. A rare exception occurs in Emil Gorovets' "My Mother Longed to be There on My Wedding Day." But even here, the major emphasis of the song is one of regret for a happy event that never took place.

"Es Vet Zikh" (From a Twig a Tree will bloom) by Yankel Tropianski and Kasriel Broydo is the song of an imprisoned spirit longing to experience the arrival of spring outside his besieged ghetto. Or take the beautiful imagery in Abraham Brudno and Abraham Sutskever's "Under Your Starry Heaven": "Under your white starry heaven, offer me your pale white hand/All my words are flowing teardrops, I will place them in your hand."

The main tone of this beautifully polished gem of a program is one of dignity and spiritual longing. To souls imprisoned, it can be a comfort to listen to music recalling a happier time, when life was filled with possibilities.


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