Artists have always provided vivid testimony to their epoch. Their creations speak for the aspirations, accomplishments and ideals of each era. They also chronicle the failures and tragedies of their time. Political events during most of the 20th century have affected artistic expression. They have altered the natural course of events in the lives of many artists. But political circumstances have also provided writers, painters, dancers and composers with a raison d'etre for their creations.
Fifty years after the Second World War, doubts are being raised about the horrors of the Holocaust. Anybody familiar with the lives of prominent 20th century musical masters knows that most of them had to escape from Europe at the beginning of the anschluss. Their works were classified as decadent, unworthy of being studied, published or performed. Their lives were in danger. Darius Milhaud was considered a traitor, not only because he was handicapped and his parents were Jewish, but most importantly, because his most famous work La Creation du Monde was inspired by Jazz harmonies and rhythms. The influence of African-American music was a definite sign of artistic inferiority that could not be tolerated. Kurt Weill, one of the most popular and promising German composers of the late 1920's, was rejected by the world in which he had conceived his greatest music. His stage works, written in collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, suddenly disappeared from German opera houses in spite of their genuine and tremendous popular appeal.
Far away from Europe, the political troubles of post-colonial Africa have not gone unnoticed by artists. Nelson Mandela's courageous words and actions have provided emotional sustenance to millions of individuals. They have also impressed creative minds throughout the world.
The compositions that make up this album, all recorded for the first time, speak of the political and social conflicts identified with our times. They represent a wide variety of aesthetic points of view. The listener will be pleasantly surprised by the diversity and creativity evident in today's chamber music.
Artistic expression is a means of affirming humanitarian values. It can be an act of moral defiance that keeps the spirit alive.