Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine, November/December 2011

The fate of children in the Holocaust forms the basis of the harrowing Vedem (2010). Around 15,000 children passed through Terezín (rechristened Theriesenstadt) during the war years. The work’s title, Vedem, refers to a Czech word meaning “in the lead.” Thanks to the actions of Sidney Taussig (a Terezín survivor), 800 pages of these poems survive. The libretto that surrounds and contains some of these poems is by David Mason, who previously collaborated with Laitman on her opera, The Scarlet Letter. The solo items can be performed independently as a song cycle, which seems a remarkably ecological use of her material. Scoring is tightly controlled: Laitman uses a clarinet, violin, cello, and piano (at times, Messiaen’s Quatuor pour le fin du temps seems to be invoked). Laitman’s music itself is imbued with a humanitarian warmth that seems to complement her leitmotivic structure by underpinning the words with a musical consistency… The impression of innocence is painfully visceral. One almost does not notice Laitman’s skill as a word setter, or her structural mastery that enables the work to speak as deeply as it does… A most touching experience, and one that further confirms Laitman’s status as one of the most talented and intriguing of living composers.