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This is not the first vocal work to draw on poems by child inmates of the Theresienstadt (Terezin) ghetto in Czechoslovakia during the second world war; Robert Convery wrote a similar piece ten years ago. Joyce-Walter’s masterstroke, though, is to use thematic material from Smetana’s Vltava for the piece’s arch-form, symbolising the river that runs by the city and symbolically through the children’s foreshortened lives, and contrasting it with the brutal train track that will take them to their deaths. Soprano soloist Oxnaya Oleskaya sings with unforced intensity, while choir and orchestra sustain the symphonic structure and impart a strong sense of lived experience and collective hope rising above despair. Aceldama, for flute and strings and inspired by 21st-century ‘fields of blood’, makes up the disc.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Choir & Organ, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing