This disc, featuring the music of Paul Ben-Haim, is the first in a planned series, Music in Exile, highlighting music by composers who had to flee Europe during the rise of Nazi Germany. If the other recordings live up to that of this first installation, I cannot wait for the others.
...both the Quintet and the subsequent Pastoral Variations have never quite made it into the standard repertoire for clarinet performance students; but they should. Clarinetist Joaquin Valdepenas and the ARC strings convince us of this work s beauty and vitality.
Similarly, the Piano Quartet is a lovely and dramatic work... This is a bold and compelling work from a then twenty-four-year-old composer and should be heard more. Pianist David Louie with ARC string artists Benjamin Bowman, violin, Steven Dann, viola and Bryan Epperson, cello play wonderfully and convincingly.
The remaining three works on this disc are of much smaller scale but are no less intriguing.
I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this music and, if-like me-any one of these or all of these is your first exposure to the music of Paul Ben-Haim, you will no doubt want to hear more.
Kudos to the ARC ensemble and I look forward to more in this important series. --Audiophile Audition, Daniel Coombs
It's great to have a chance to discover these lost treasures (the Piano Quartet has languished unheard since it was last performed in 1932), and the performances, as one would expect from the ARC Ensemble, are simply terrific. So if you're in the mood for a new discovery, this ARC release is highly recommended. --CBC, Denise Ball
The first work you'll hear on this absorbing CD was composed by a 24-year-old who worked as an assistant conductor to Bruno Walter and Hans Knappertsbusch. Munichborn Paul Frankenburger, as he was then, had soaked up the influences of Brahms, Faure and Reger, all of whose works are at one time or another echoed in the Piano Quartet, Op 4. The music's spirit suggests a clean bill of health to contrast with the feverish outpourings of Vienna's hothouse fin de siecle, the expansive finale in particular, bold music, assertive and impressively varied in tone and incident.
Frankenburger became Ben-Haim after the lamentable developments in Nazi-dominated Europe prompted his emigration to Palestine (later Israel), which is where the remainder of the works programmed by the ARC players were composed. The Two Landscapes for viola and piano and Improvisation and Dance for violin and piano both date from 1939 and take us on a route where Bartok and Enescu reside somewhere close by, though Ben-Haim's style has a distinctively lyrical slant all its own. If Bloch evokes the spirit of Jewish prayer and (occasionally) ritual, Ben-Haim more suggests the world of dance and outdoor celebration.
The Clarinet Quintet (1941, rev 1965) melds a highly sophisticated musical design with more than a hint of klezmer-influenced improvisation. By then Ben-Haim was apparently happy that he had consolidated a 'new style', and the evidence quietly but firmly extends the language of the genre. Superb playing by the members of the ARC Ensemble, excellent sound and useful booklet-notes by Simon Wynberg. --Gramophone Magazine, Rob Cowan