A monumental work by a miniaturist
Andrew G. Lang | Cleveland, OH USA | 05/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"German composer Hanns Eisler is sometimes dismissed by his critics as a "miniaturist"--a gifted composer of songs, film scores, stage music and tightly-structured chamber pieces who was incapable of larger-scale orchestral works. This was partly the result of Eisler's theory of "applied music"--music should "climb down from its lofty heights" and take part in life's struggles. For Eisler, that meant music for the radical worker's movement in Europe before the Second World War, and particularly music for the new technologies of radio, sound film and recording. Both content and form dictated Eisler's style, which tended to produce concentrated bursts of meaning through carefully constructed forms.The "German Symphony" on this album--recorded by the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus--shows that Eisler could indeed write for large musical forces. But the symphony's 11 movements are more of a series of cantatas than an integrated choral symphony. Still, the effect is impressive, and the opening Praeludium is one of the finest products of Eisler's generation of exiles from Nazi-dominated Europe. It is a powerful cry of protest, to words by Bertolt Brecht, against the spiritual and physical destruction of their German homeland."