Review Summary: "Could it be; that the worst horror of all is the death of god in the soul. A young Jewish boy witnesses the death of his mother and father in a concentration camp. Darkness Descends..."
In 1986 Elle Wiesel released Night
, a book that took a brief look into the horrible happenings of the Holocaust during World Word II. These events, especially the death of so many people at the Nazi death camps Auschwitz and many others scattered through Poland/Germany and Austria, are some of the most haunting and gruesome happenings of the human history. In 2002 Robert Rumbelow wrote a three piece score that delves into the atrocities that occurred at these camps, a young Jewish boy and his family as the protagonists, which is not too dissimilar to the story of Elle. The work goes through different stages of the horror that the young boy witnessed or was involved in. Night: The Holocaust
is truly moving.
Movement I – The Evening Air
The year is 1941, with many of the death camps in full swing, and the Nazi deep into its global campaign. The piece starts out gloomy with quite a haunting piano melody laid underneath chants of the ‘Kol Nidre’ which is a Jewish prayer reserved for only the holiest of days. Dissonant chords from the woodwind are greeted by the piano and occasional struck note by the glockenspiel. Varying burst of lofty melody is played by the brass, woodwinds and piano percussion as the symphony build and crescendo into nothing, which then becomes quite a deafening silence. We are then served with many Jewish motifs, which are altered into a much more pleasantly joyful sounding replay of the piano melody that was so haunting during the start of the movement, though this is quickly taken away by the slow crescendo and gloomy dissonant chord from the brass, sucking out all the joy of the previous section, ending the piece in sadness, as a young Jewish boy and his family have been separated by SS soldiers at his local village, as they prepared to be moved out of their current living conditions, and moved to Auschwitz.
Movement II – Faith of a Child
The scene is at a train station, with the family being once again reunited, giving them some hope. Written in more of a chorale styled melody, based on the Jewish hymn ‘Hiney Ma Toy’, ‘Faith of a Child’ explores amazing intonation from the band as well as being fuller in sound then the previous ‘The Evening Air.’ The melodies original lyrical content is: “Hiney ma tov uma naim, Shevet a him gam yahad”
which translates to “How goodly it is and pleasant for breathen to dwell together.” This movement is only short, but it captures the happiness of the family being together once again, before then the once again gloomy cloud of dissonant chords from the brass crescendo, and then fall back into the eerie piano melody, as the family boards the train.
Movement III – Darkness Descends: The Never Ending Night (The Loss of Faith)
In the CD booklet, these are the only notes that accompany the III and most dark piece:
Could it be; that the worst horror of all is the death of god in the soul. A young Jewish boy witnesses the death of his mother and father in a concentration camp. Darkness Descends...
This kind of powerful statement puts you in the right mindset for the final movement. Rumbelow is trying to convey the loss of faith from the strongly religious young Jewish boy, after he witnesses the death of his parents, and Rumbelow successfully does so, as well as putting a massive shiver down your spine.
The movement begins with quite an intricate flute solo that sets the mood, leaping octaves and spacing the notes. The glockenspiel and woodwind then begin their monumentally powerful, yet simple melody. The melody is accompanied by chilling vocals that follow the main melody, yet seems so far away. We are then given heavy chords once again, that devour the opening melody. Then we are hit be the quite obvious noise of a train slowly gaining speed. The train trips from local Jewish villages to Auschwitz and other concentration camps over history have become quite renowned as they killed many of the people before they even arrived at the camps. The movement ‘finally’ moves to Auschwitz, where we are given a grandiose full band sound that diminishes as quickly as it came, as you feel the relief of the train trip ending and is greeted by the tall chimneys of the crematoriums at the camp. Out of the diminishing sounds, the slow intricate flute and piano melody that was heard at the start arrives, with a more mellow sound this time until it fades away into the distance, signifying the after effect of the young boy witnessing the death of his parents.
Night: The Holocaust
is a work of music that will almost bring you to tears, with the way it is able to tell the story of such a sad and horrible event that really should never be forgotten. Robert Rumbelow has really hit his heights, even if it’s one of the lowest parts of our history as a human race.