The story of Anne Frank continues to act as a reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, and by extension, a caution against repeating history with acts of genocide against any group of persons globally.
Annelies Marie Frank was born in 1929, and died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March of 1945, just weeks before it was liberated by the British. She and her family spent two years hiding in a secret apartment in Amsterdam, during which the girl kept a thorough diary, articulating the dreams and nightmares of a young teenager trapped inside all day with her family.
"The Diary of Anne Frank" was preserved by Miep Gies, one of the Dutch friends of the Frank family, who helped to hide them until their eventual capture in August, 1944, and has become a literary classic, as well as required reading for students around the world.
British composer James Whitbourn (1963- ) has created a choral setting of the diary for soprano, choir, and seven musicians. "Annelies"is an extensive and ambitious work, running approximately 75 minutes, and Naxos has released the Chamber Version on CD and Digital formats. "Annelies" is a somber piece that, though well composed and performed, is a dark and brooding composition not suited for the casual listen.
Divided into fourteen movements, the text is predominantly made up of passages from Anne's diary, with Zuckerman handling the solos, and the Westminster Williamson Voices of Westminster Choir College providing the choral sections. Whitbourn has the choir singing in tutti for most of the piece, allowing the text to be clearly heard by the listener.
The musicians are excellent. The Lincoln Trio, along with clarinet soloist Bharat Chandra, convey the torment of this child and her family as their lives oscillate between hope and despair, leading up to their tragic end.
The recording quality is high, not unexpected from Naxos. Even though it is difficult to "enjoy" the piece, Whitbourn is to be commended for his musical interpretation of this important text.
James Whitbourn / Arianna Zuckerman / Westminster Williamson Voices
CD and Digital formats