Few European composers of the s and s embraced jazz and added its features to his own style as whole-heartedly as Erwin Schulhoff, born in Prague in He was an exceptional improviser even in classical music and even more so in jazz. When fascism rose in Germany he joined the Communist Party and even became a Soviet citizen. A Berlin radio station commissioned this work. By that time the English word "Hot" had become a synonym for jazz and this saxophone sonata is thoroughly hot both in that sense and in the expressive, gritty quality of many of its jazz elements. The opening movement is a lyrical one, in rhapsodic form, a kind of jazz club-ballad style.
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The composer, writer and Kafka confidant Max Brod once described Prague as percent Czech, percent German and percent Jewish. That kind of bad math makes for a good joke. But when you think of how that cultural symbiosis would be pried apart and destroyed under Nazi occupation and persecution, the statement takes on a tragic hue. A case in point is the Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff , who was the subject of an illuminating retrospective on Wednesday at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.
Schulhoff, who was Jewish and who took on Soviet citizenship early in the war, was deported to a concentration camp in Bavaria, where he succumbed to tuberculosis. For a first-time listener like me who has principally associated his name with the grim circumstances of his death, the vitality of his music — fun, sexy and energized by bracing infusions of jazz and Eastern European folk traditions — can come as a shock. The retrospective was jointly presented by the American Society for Jewish Music and the Leo Baeck Institute and included a helpful biographical introduction by Michael Beckerman, a musicologist at New York University.
The pianist Mimi Stern-Wolfe opened the evening with lucid performances of six short solo piano works. In his Piano Sonata No. So does a certain grotesque quality that Schulhoff courts even in the expressive markings of some of his movements. The second movement of his String Quartet No. That quartet received an energetic reading from members of the Downtown Chamber Players — the violinists Marshall Coid and Bradley Bosenbeck, the violist Veronica Salas and the cellist Mary Wooten — that revealed an extraordinary palette of affects from red-blooded folk dances reminiscent of Bartok to creepy close harmonies rendered in gauzy sound.
The saxophonist Marty Ehrlich, sensitively accompanied by Ms. Home Page World U.
Hot-Sonate for Alto Saxophone
Sonata for alto saxophone & piano "Hot-Sonata"