eda records launched the “Poland Abroad” series in 2004 in cooperation with Deutschlandradio Kultur following a festival that the Konzerthaus Berlin dedicated to Poland as Germany’s neighbor on the occasion of the eastern expansion of the European Union. This large-scale presentation put the spotlight on composers who have largely gone unnoticed on the international music scene and were persecuted or driven into exile due to the political situation (during the partition of Poland, the Nazi occupation, and the Communist yoke that followed). Some of them survived the war and the Shoah under dramatic circumstances.
The series presents compositions of every genre: opera, ballet, symphony, concerto, and chamber music. The goal is to highlight the outstanding quality of this repertoire in reference recordings and to encourage listeners to take an interest in two central aspects of cultural history (and not only that of the 20th century): transculturality and transnationality. All of the composers presented here stepped outside of their national context and developed a style that was as individual as it was universal in their engagement with the various movements of the European avant-garde of their time.
Vol. 5 of the “Poland Abroad” series presents masterpieces of 20th century chamber music. They stand for the extraordinary stylistic diversity of Polish music – both during and after World War II – and reveal the manifold international networks in which it developed. With his legendary Quintet, which was premiered in an underground concert shortly before the Warsaw Uprising in the summer of 1944, Constantin Regamey created a breathtaking key work of the Polish avant-garde, a companion piece to Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Regamey played an important role in the cultural organization of the Polish underground during the Nazi occupation. Caught after the uprising, he was spared from deportation thanks to the Swiss citizenship he inherited from his father. After the war, Regamey was a leading linguist, an expert for Eastern European and Asian languages, teaching in Lausanne, as well as one of the key figures in the contemporary music scene in Switzerland. Józef Koffler, the pre-war era’s most important representative of the Second Viennese School in Poland, was discovered in hiding and executed by the Nazis in 1943. The evocation of love in his 1931 Cantata based on the words of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (which also inspired Brahms in his Four Serious Songs) has lost none of its power and urgency. Simon Laks narrowly escaped the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau as a member of the men’s orchestra. After the liberation, he went back to Paris, where he had lived since 1926 as an active member of the “Association des Jeunes Musiciens Polonais”, and resumed his career as a composer. His Divertimento from 1966, a piece of divine lightness and masterly elegance, became his swan song. After the Six-Day War in 1967 and the anti-Semitic acts in Poland in 1968, followed by the exodus of thousands of Polish Jews, he lost his belief in artistic creation.
Józef Koffler: Love (Miłość/Die Liebe) Cantata op. 14 (1931)
Simon Laks: Divertimento for flute, violin, cello and piano (1966)