Dick_Kattenburg

The voice of the Viola in Times of Opression: viola as a voice for the persecuted

altviool voice of the viola

The viola sonata by Dick Kattenburg (1919-1944) consists of only one movement, allegro moderato. The reason is simple: before Kattenburg could complete the work, he was arrested during a raid in a cinema and sent to Westerbork on 5 May 1944. Two weeks later, on 19 May 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered. Kattenburg was only 24 years old.

Max Vredenburg (1904 -1976) is now mainly known as co-founder of the National Youth Orchestra. In the 1920s he left for Paris where he studied with Paul Dukas and Albert Roussel, composers who influenced him greatly. In 1941 he fled to Batavia and in 1942 he ended up in a Japanese camp. He survived the war but a large part of his family was murdered in Sobibor and Auschwitz. He composed the Lamento in 1953 in memory of his sister Elsa.

altvioool VredenburgMax1

Max Vredenburg © Maria Austria MAI

The sonata by Mieczysław Weinberg, originally composed for clarinet and piano, is perhaps the most complex of all the other works on this CD. It is also the only composition that is not only sad: you can also recognize fragments of klezmer and Jewish folklore in it.

And if you think you recognize the opening measures of Beethoven’s Mondscheinsonate in ‘Adagio’, you are right. Those notes are indeed in it. Just as in the adagio, the final movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s sonata. The work, dating from 1975, was his last composition, and shortly after the completion of the sonata he died of lung cancer.

I can only be brief about the performance: the absolute TOP! The sound that Ásdís Valdimarsdóttir elicits from her viola is of a rare beauty. It is so beautiful that it hurts. Listen to the Adagio of Weinberg’s sonata. Terrifying.

Marcel Worms, surely one of the greatest pianists/accompanists of our time, keeps himself a bit in the background, giving his Icelandic colleague all the honour of wearing glasses. But just listen carefully and experience how compassionate his contribution is. That’s what I think is called ‘partners in crime’. I can’t describe it any better.

Mieczysław Weinberg, Dick Kattenburg, Max Vredenburg, Dmitri Shostakovich
The voice of the Viola in Times of Opression
Ásdís Valdimarsdóttir (viola), Marcel Worms (piano)
Zefir Records ZEF 9657

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

Article in Dutch: The voice of the Viola in Times of Opression: de altviool als stem voor de vervolgden

Forbidden Music in World WAR II: PAUL HERMANN