Total Time 2:02:40
DISC ONE 60:03
SUITE: REMEMBRANCES 51:07
DISC TWO 62:37
SUITE: REFLECTIONS ON THE ALMIGHTY (from the Psalms) 14:25
SUITE: HASHOAH LAMENTATIONS 22:20
Out of the depths I have cried to thee,
from Psalm 130
A warm and sincere shalom to all of you
Hashoah Lamentations is surely the most important musical project Ive undertaken. Although Im primarily a jazz artist, this recital is more strongly influenced by traditional Western piano styles than by jazz. It is an album of compositions dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust to the survivors and, in a general sense, to Jewish people everywhere. As this is reflective music, I sincerely trust it will be listened to in similar, meditative fashion i.e. not as entertainment.
The album was originally conceived to contain just the material of Disc Two. Beginning with Never Again, this music encompasses everything from Jewish faith in the God of Israel even in the midst of catastrophe to the shocking grief of the Great Tragedy itself. Ive designed these sixty-two minutes of music so the ear (and the heart) move gradually towards the focal point: the four-movement Lamentations.
While preparing this projects release, I was compelled to revisit the studio and record an hours worth of additional pieces. This resulted in Disc One, featuring both an extended version of Never Again and the all-improvised Remembrances. Here, I imagined the somber reflections of an older man or woman: the Holocaust remembered from a survivors viewpoint. Alternating feelings of anger and anguish are depicted, as our subject quietly laments the loss of loved ones recalls the fearful events of the camps and weeps for the children who perished.
This recording presented a special challenge for me. The emotional intensity of the subject proved exhausting. Yet Im hopeful these performances are satisfactory; if they inspire at all, if they cause the listener to think (indeed, to remember), I will count this project a success.
It is often noted that many non-Jews were persecuted and murdered by Hitler and his henchmen. Of course I acknowledge this, and with much sorrow. Indeed, other groups of persons (most notably the gypsies of Central Europe) were similarly singled out for destruction by the Nazis. As their lives were surely worth as much to God as were the lives of Jewish victims, the Jewishness of this project is not meant to minimize anyone elses sufferings.
Nothing, however, compares with The Final Solution and its scope: the monstrous plan (one-third successful, lest anyone forget) to rid the world of the Jews. Simply put, it is an obscene injustice whenever this undeniable fact seems to be forgotten, or is cheapened by any false comparisons. This awareness, more than anything else, bolsters my conviction that new collections of music (along with other artistic endeavors) commemorating the suffering of the Jews under the Nazis are imperative.
It is my sincere hope that the Jewish community and other groups with an interest in this subject will utilize this music in various appropriate ways, particularly as parts of Yom Hashoah commemorations. And may I earnestly say that if just one Jewish person finds some healing, or feels any consolation from this music, I would count that as one of the great blessings of my life.
All net proceeds are to be directed to various Holocaust-related programs and institutions.
September 23, 1944
My beloved child!
If God will not stand by me, these will be the last words I will be able to write you. This morning, we were called out to get our orders, to be ready to be transported to an unknown destination, I hope it will be to a work camp I hope to have our lives sparedand we can see our loved ones again. [Yet] I do not mourn over my destiny. I hope at least that your mother comes out of this alive be a good and willing child for her. There is no more time And now be greeted and kissed a thousand times. As you finish reading this, think in love of your father,
Listen to Hofmanns Hashoah Lamentations and hear the descent into darkness, the pervasiveness of an evil that came to dominate a continent and envelop a people; the evil that consumed that people my people, the Jewish people; and the evil that consumed another people those people, the German people and their collaborators.
Listen to the sounds and the silences. In music silence and sound go together. So too in the Holocaust and in its recollection. Listen to Paul Hofmanns Hashoah Lamentations and hear the moments of exaltation, those very few moments when nobility appeared and flickered. Even if barely visible, it could not be fully extinguished; even if barely audible, it can be heard in this music.
I am of the first generation to be touched by survivors. Paul Hofmann is of the second. His children, my grandchildren, will be of the last to be touched directly. The work I now do in documenting the Holocaust on video tapes will ensure that the echo of those special people and that extraordinary experience will be there for those in future generations who want to listen. In Paul Hofmanns work that echo resonates into respectful, responsive creativity that laments the great destruction.
Dr. Michael Berenbaum
President, Survivors of the Shoah
Visual History Foundation
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