This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Eisler's Deutsche Sinfonie, an avowedly anti-Fascist sequence of mini-cantatas and instrumental movements, is his magnum opus. Why then have so few of us heard it, lazily assuming it to be more dutiful than inspired? The reasons are as much political as musical, an almost inevitable reflection of the curious trajectory of Eisler's career. A Schoenbergian with diatonic leanings, Eisler's Leftist sympathies led him towards a long-term collaboration with Brecht after 1930, marking him down as a poor man's Kurt Weill. In fact, Eisler (1898-1962) was adept in any number of genres from Hollywood film scores to simple marching songs, but his serious music is crucially important in that it brings a radical lucidity to the 12-note method of his
teachers. While remaining genuinely 'modern' in outlook, he seeks always to communicate.
If the Deutsche Sinfonie occasionally recalls other figures and other musics (Mahler, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Webern, Weill or even Shostakovich), this is usually because we are insufficiently familiar with the distinguishing features of Eisler's own. Despite what some might view as the outdated ideological posturing of Brecht's texts (there are also passages of great poetic sensitivity), and notwithstanding Eisler's use of deliberately conflicting manners to energize his settings, the composition hangs together without strain and there are no awkward gear changes between sections. The orchestration is always beautifully clear, the sentiments coolly articulated with none of the tub-thumping rhetoric demanded by socialist realism. On the face of it, Eisler's work follows the party line, but it can also be appreciated as a deeply-felt lament for a sophisticated, intelligent and civilized people willing to collaborate with, work for, and, in the end, sacrifice its humanity to sustain the most destructive political regime in history.
Having completed much of the score in the 1930s, Eisler was still making additions to it after the abrupt termination of his American exile. Obliged to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he was stigmatized as ''the Karl Marx of Communism in the musical field'' and ''allowed voluntary departure'' (i.e. paid his own fare rather than being formally deported) in 1948. Thereafter he was effectively obliged to make his home in East Germany, working within the social system for which he had striven all his life, in a community which adopted his setting of Auferstanden aus Ruinen as its national anthem.
Eisler's cause, almost as unfashionable as his politics, should be hugely assisted by the appearance of this recording, no mere studio run-through. The soloists are well drilled yet intensely characterful where required, and Zagrosek secures orchestral playing that is not just squeaky clean but genuinely alive, enhanced by the tactful application of rubato and the careful pointing of detail. The strings are taxed by the fast-moving serial writing of the penultimate Allegro but this is not a serious problem.
Once again, Decca's production team have come up with a recording of rare luminosity and depth. The booklet contains full texts, a useful biography of the composer and a well-meant, if somewhat opaque, note on the music. This is an important issue, unexpectedly moving and strongly recommended.
-- Gramophone [12/1995]
Works on This Recording
Deutsche Sinfonie, Op. 50 by Hanns Eisler
Annette Markert (Alto),
Hendrikje Wangemann (Soprano),
Gert Gütschow (Spoken Vocals),
Volker Schwarz (Spoken Vocals),
Peter Lika (Bass),
Matthias Goerne (Bass Baritone)
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,
Ernst Senff Choir
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 05/1995
Venue: Gewandhaus, Leipzig, Germany
Length: 65 Minutes 5 Secs.
Be the first to review this title