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Hanns Eisler: Chamber Music
Hanns Eisler, Hans-Jurgen Wenzel, Friedrich-Carl Erben
Hanns Eisler: Chamber Music
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (30) - Disc #1


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Eisler from Schoenberg to Janacek, and always a wry and perk
Discophage | France | 12/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The disc is nicely arranged in chronological order of composition, and not surprisingly the early pieces contained on this CD display Eisler at his most Schoenbergian, even imitating Pierrot Lunaire in Palmström op. 5 (written for the same lineup as Schoenberg's famous piece). Again not surprisingly the last composition featured here, the Second Septet from 1947 (subtitled "Zirkus" - it resulted from sketches made for an aborted project of music for Chaplin's silent film "Circus"), is much less radical in its language, and imbued with a genial and light-hearted mood. But most of the compositions are filled with a wry and perky sense of humor (and nowhere more than in the whimsical "Newspaper scraps", track 9 to 18, an anti-lyrical song cycle written on excerpts from newspapers), very much of its time and culture (German expressionism), but also likening the music at times, especially in the compositions for woodwinds, the Flute-Oboe and harp trio, the First Nonet or the Second Septet, to French neo-classicism or Janacek's music for Wind Ensemble (Mladi, Concertino, Capriccio). Sometimes the music rises to thorny vehemence, as in the Nonett (track 24, around 3:30) or the finale of the Violin and Piano Sonata (track 23). But overall it is pretty grey and not very seductive. The Prelude and Fugue on the BACH theme for string trio is austere and imposing - as befits the theme.

TT is 71:40. The recordings were made between 1965 (Septet No. 2) and the early 1970s and come in good sound. This CD is part of Berlin Classics' Eisler collection which reissues East German recordings from the Eterna label that were as good as unobtainable in the era of the LP. It's good to have them on CD and easily accessible. To Eisler completists such as myself, this CD, with the others from the series, is a must-have. The excellent and thorough liner notes add much to the disc's value, but unfortunately the texts to the songs are not provided.