"Following the Grammy nominated Volume 2 featuring the music of Fitelberg, the Canadian ARC Ensemble presents Volume 3 in its 'Music in Exile' series, dedicated to the music of Szymon Laks.
Born in Warsaw in 1901, Laks studied in Paris before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He soon joined and conducted the Auschwitz orchestra (his auditioning with a 'Jewish' work – Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto – went unnoticed). Although the trauma of his imprisonment left him alienated and reclusive, few of his works refer specifically to the Holocaust. A rather subtle, colourful, and sometimes contrapuntal style emerges in his writing, notably represented in the early, elegant, Ravel-influenced Sonatina for piano, in the later, melodic Passacaille, and the folk dances and songs woven into the cheerful String Quartet No. 4, as well as in the breezy, seemingly effortless Divertimento.
These premiere recordings are a must-have, not only because of the compositional context and the quality of the music and its interpretations, but also because the unsparing eyewitness account that
Laks gave of his imprisonment has eclipsed his musical legacy, leaving his works more than unjustly neglected."