The passages librettist Melanie Challenger has chosen from the writings of the highly intelligent, insightful and inspiring Anne Frank with added biblical passages have been set to a tender yet powerful score by composer James Whitbourn. He offers two versions: both for soloist and chorus, one with full orchestra, the other for piano trio plus clarinet. This recording is of the latter, which offers such a poignant, personal characterization that one is immediately drawn into an almost unbearable intimacy with the tragic events. Rather than straight accompaniment, it seems each instrument has several roles to play in the drama, for example, the clarinet as the voice of Jewish tradition, the violin and cello deep emotion and the passage of time with piano as chiming clock. Of course, the voices have many changes to portray: soprano Arianna Zukerman sings with a supremely controlled tone that never strays from pure beauty, but sublimely imparts the contrast of isolation vs. devotion and buoyant hopefulness.
The choir, Westminster Williamson Voices led by James Jordon, is superb and they are flawless in the delivery of passages that range from terror and alarm to prayerful and even a chorale on Anne’s Ich danke dir für all das Gute und Liebe und Schöne (Thank you God, for all that is good and dear and beautiful) that appears more delightfully Mozartian in character than one harmonized by Bach. This first choral setting of The Diary of Anne Frank certainly proves worthy.