I’d been watching the social media posts about this coming album of music by Marion von Tilzer and was intrigued. That the album included among it’s performers the ever-wonderful cellist Maya Fridman just heightened by interest to hear it. And I am more than pleased to finally hear the album. It is delightfully beautiful and thought provoking. In listening to this album, I encourage you to find your quiet, dark, happy space and distance yourself from all distractions. When I did this, the music simply drew me in, enveloped me, and totally engaged my mind and spirit. I don’t often say this of recordings, but this is one that fully rewards the effort.

All of the works are compositions of Marion von Tilzer, a musical triptych inspired by a letter written by Vilma Grunwald saying goodbye to her husband just moments before she and her son John were killed in the Auschwitz gas chamber. These are sad, sweet, haunting songs for the most part, beautifully sung by contralto Bella Adamova or vocalized by cellist Maya Fridman. Several are instrumental only. The instrumental accompaniment is diverse, with Von Tilzer on piano, Fridman on cello, and a string quartet, clarinet, and percussion joining on various tracks. An incredibly excellent sounding combination of talents to pull this off so successfully.

Most highly recommended! *****

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“However difficult it may be to place the terrible, gruesome and bizarre in an aesthetic framework, the whole nevertheless proved to be the pervasive reflection of an indefinable state of mind that leaves the abstract far behind without, however, lapsing into unwanted effect chasing. Vocal and instrumental contributions lived up to that in an extraordinarily impressive way. The recording is superb: strictly clear and colorful.”

Aart van der Wal

“From the dark turmoil of the opening movement, Von Tilzer allows the sung letter to rise slowly — with soft strings and the heartbeat of the piano — from the muck of Auschwitz. And in the final movement, she recaptures innocence from hatred and evil through the simplicity of a lullaby, a beautiful dialogue between alto Bella Adamova and Maya Fridman’s drifting cello.”

Joost Galema NRC