The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Andres Mustonen.
(photo credit: SASSON TIRAM)
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY
Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time Jerusalem Music Center, January 27
The Israel Chamber Project observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day by performing Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour le fin du temps (“Quartet for the End of Time”).
Most welcome though the performance of this rarely-heard work is, in the context of Holocaust remembrance it might have been appropriate to present a work by a Jewish composer and Holocaust victim, such as Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann or several others.
Messiaen’s work, for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, was composed while he was imprisoned in a German POW camp in WWII. This unusual instrument combination is due not only to Messiaen’s original modernity, but to the availability of instruments in the POW camp. Messiaen admirably made the best of these constraints. In the work’s eight movements these instruments do not always play together. In one they play in unison, creating a unique diversity of tone colors. In another, the solo clarinet alone is weeping as perhaps only a clarinet can, then transforming to consoling sounds and to an optimism surprising under the circumstances. Another movement radiates, equally surprisingly, tremendous energy, presumably on the basis of Messiaen’s profound faith. In still another movement, the cello and piano perform a contemplative duo, leading at the end to a meditative duo of violin and piano, vanishing gradually into thin air – apparently Messiaen’s musical concept of the “end of time.”
The musicians – Tibi Cziger, Yonah Zur, Michal Korman, Yael Kareth – performed this tremendously challenging work with utmost sensitivity and a noticeable sense of identification and mission.
The concert was preceded by a presentation of Menuha Meinstein’s book My Eyes Looking Back at Me
on the life of a Holocaust survivor.