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Entartete Musik - Rathaus: Der Letzte Pierrot, Sinfonie No 1


Release Date: 02/09/1999 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 455315   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Karol Rathaus
Conductor:  Israel Yinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Karol Rathaus was one of those indirect victims of Nazism that Decca’s Entartete Musik series has been so indispensable in rediscovering. Polish-born, he was briefly very successful in pre-war Germany (an opera was premiered by Bruno Walter; Furtwangler and Horenstein also took him up). Seeing the way the wind was blowing he left Germany the year before Hitler came to power, wrote film music and a ballet in Paris and London but found few openings and fewer performances in America, where he eventually settled.

The First Symphony (there are two others) was roundly abused at its premiere in 1926; this recording is its first performance since then, and the composer – not yet 60 – went to his early grave believing the score to be
Read more lost. It is a prodigiously inventive work, 40 minutes long though in only two movements, in a frowning, sinewy post-romantic style that might remind you just a little of the symphonies of Honegger or of the more austere pages of Martinu. The thematic language, though, is much closer to the Viennese tradition and its roots in Mahler, Reger and (Rathaus’s teacher) Schreker are clearly perceptible. But it has an individual emotional vein, often grim, sombre or shadowed, rising at times to a bitter eloquence that is very striking; orchestrally, too, it is highly accomplished. According to an accompanying note Rathaus was frightened by the reaction to the work and by the anti-Semitism of some of his critics; it is hard not to hear some such prejudice in dismissals of the symphony as ‘atonal’. It is no such thing, and although many of its melodies are angular and some of its dissonances harsh, it is by no means especially innovative for its period.

Even so, Rathaus apparently changed his style soon afterwards. Not radically, if his ballet The last Pierrot is anything to go by. Its melodies are sometimes smoother; no doubt association with dance added an element of grace to his manner, but the music is evidently by the same composer as the symphony. Jazz elements are introduced (and adroitly used to convey real menace at one point) and there is a violent forcefulness that aptly reflects the plot – this is a Pierrot in modern times, seeking his Columbine among factories and dance halls. It is effective and was for a while very popular. But it is the Symphony that whets one’s appetite for more of this impressively gifted composer’s music, especially in such eloquent performances as these. The Symphony is a tough piece to bring off – it had to wait five years for its premiere, because conductors were scared of it – but Israel Yinon has its full measure. I look forward to future recordings by him as eagerly as I do to more music by Karol Rathaus.

-- Michael Oliver, Gramophone [9/1998]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Der letzte Pierrot, Op. 19 by Karol Rathaus
Conductor:  Israel Yinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927 
Date of Recording: 03/1996 
Venue:  Jesus Christus Kirche, Berlin 
Length: 38 Minutes 16 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 1, Op. 5 by Karol Rathaus
Conductor:  Israel Yinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1922 
Date of Recording: 03/1996 
Venue:  Jesus Christus Kirche, Berlin 
Length: 38 Minutes 2 Secs. 

Featured Sound Samples

Symphony no 1: II. Second Movement
Der letzte Pierrot: Act III

Sound Samples

Symphony No.1: 1. 1st Movement
Symphony No.1: 2. 2nd Movement
Der letzte Pierrot: 1. Act 1
Der letzte Pierrot: 2. Act 2
Der letzte Pierrot: 3. Act 3

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