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Stephen Pettitt
, August 1999

The arch-conservative American composer, Benjamin Lees wrote this impressive work in 1985 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the ending of the Holocaust. It has immense power and ambition, its three movements together lasting over an hour and evoking all the fear, desolation and darkness of that terrible episode. The middle movement includes settings of two poems by the 1966 Nobel Prize-winner and Holocaust survivor Nelly Sachs. They're sung with apposite dignity, terror and pathos by the husky sounding soprano Kimball Wheeler. A solo violinist (James Buswell), representing, according to Lees himself, the soul of central and eastern Europe, also plays an important part. Lees reputation may be modest, but among his more glamorous peers there are few who could make their audiences weep so for the past - and present - inhumanities perpetrated by mankind.

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