eda records has been devoting special attention to the composer Simon (Polish: Szymon) Laks for several years now. World-premiere recordings of his works run through the entire “Poland Abroad” series (eda 26, 27, 34, 35, and 37), some of his vocal compositions can be found on the CD “Elegy for the Jewish Villages” (eda 30), while the present production is dedicated entirely to him as an homage. Born in 1901 in Warsaw, Laks belonged to a group of Polish musicians and composers who banded together in Paris in the late 1920s as the “Association des Jeunes Musiciens Polonais.” Under the stewardship of Paderewski, Szymanowski, Arthur Rubinstein, and Nadia Boulanger, it was considered the most important non-French music association in what was then the music capital of the world. Laks, who had studied at the University of Warsaw and the Conservatoire in Paris, began his auspicious career as a composer in the early 1930s. He composed for famous ensembles such as the Roth Quartet and renowned soloists such as Maurice Maréchal and Vlado Perlemuter. Laks’s Jewish background led to his internment in 1941 and deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he led one of the camp’s orchestras – and narrowly survived the Shoah “after an endless series of wonders.” Music of Another World, a book he wrote after the war, is one of the most important documents of the role of the music in the Nazi extermination camps.
This CD presents a collection of world-premiere recordings of Laks’s works from the pre-war era that marked his breakthrough into the French music scene. It also includes his ballad, Hommage à Chopin, which he composed in 1949, commissioned by the Chopin competition in Warsaw, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the great composer’s death. These recordings present a composer who succeeded in creating a highly original synthesis of Slavic and French elements of style. His aesthetic position is the milieu of the École de Paris among composers such as Martinů and Mihalovici, and in particular Tansman, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship.
Vladimir Stoupel, Judith Ingolfsson, and Leonid Gorokhov are outspoken and enthusiastic advocates of Laks’s witty yet enigmatic compositions. The eda records catalogue also presents Vladimir Stoupel performing a piano recital, The Life of the Machines (eda 28), with pieces by Antheil, Mossolow, Roslavets, Nancarrow, and Szpilman, as well as with Valéry Suty in the production Elegy for the Jewish Villages, with songs by Laks, Ullmann, Ravel, and Weissgall.
Sonate pour violoncelle et piano (1932)
Suite polonaise (1935)
Ballade "Hommage à Chopin" (1949)