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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

AVAILABILITY

Capriccio

Verbotene KLÄNGE: Komponisten im Exil.
Documentary by Norbert Bunge and Christina Fischer-Defoy
Producer: Wolfgang Pfeiffer.
Sound Format: 2.0 Stereo (Doc.); Dolby Digital 5.1 (specials). Picture Format: NTSC. 4:3. Region Code: 0 (Worldwide).
CAPRICCIO 93 506 [72’00: Documentary: 35’00: Specials + 70’00: Audio]

 

This is a remarkable, moving document that will disturb and illuminate in equal parts. The main part of Capriccio’s product is Norbert Bunge and Christine Fischer-Defoy’s film that traces the effects of Nazism on composers of that era. Interviews with survivors are gripping (the film is in German, with English subtitles available), but it is perhaps the images of Hitler and the speech by Goebbels (subtitles over-write the German heading, alas) that stick in the memory. Images of rallies stagger the imagination in the sheer volume of people present.

Ernst Krenek was ‘half-Jewish, half-Czech’ and features heavily in the documentary. It is easy to forget how much he wrote, and how much of that was opera, and all too easy to remember him merely as the composer of ‘Johny spielt auf’, a jazzy and therefore ‘degenerate’ work of art. But there is so much more to discover, and this DVD makes one want to explore much, much further.

Many names will be familiar – Paul Dessau, Hanns Eisler, Arnold Schoenberg, Berthold Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt is accorded a fair amount of attention, including a segment of his Second String Quartet, a fine and superbly written work, here performed by the Mandreling Quartet. Some names less so – for example, Alfred Goodman (Gutman originally, presumably). On the performer side, the name and image of Wilhelm Furtwängler crops up on several occasions. There is film of him conducting Beethoven’s Ninth with a distinct Nazi presence about the whole affair and later in the film footage of a Nazi emblem-bedecked Meistersinger Overture where he is referred to as ‘State Counsellor’. However disturbing all this may seem, it offers invaluable contextualisation for a conductor whose recorded legacy is the stuff of fanatic record collectors everywhere. Images of Bayreuth decorated with Nazi paraphernalia are similarly disturbing.

An interview with Oskar Sala centres on Paul Hindemith who taught in Germany until 1937. Sala was a pupil of Hindemith and a film music composer and he talks of Hindemith’s compositions for the Trautonium, organ-like, but not quite, even playing one of them. Accounts of musical life in concentration camps offer a glimpse of what it must have been like.

The Audio Highlights are an Aladdin’s Cave of discovery, each one immediately prompting a craving for further investigation. The first is the Prelude to Zemlinsky’s opera, Es war einmal (which was performed at the RFH here in London in 1999, memorably, by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with Christine Brewer heading the line-up of soloists: http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/zemlinsky.htm ). The opportunity to hear a movement of Viktor Ullman’s Symphony No. 2 (with the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln under James Conlon) only whets the appetite. Krenek’s string quartets come under the spotlight in the interview with Gladys Krenek, and here is the opportunity to hear the fourth movement of the First Quartet. Schoenberg features in the Audio highlights with a section of Verklärte Nacht (Camerata Academia des Mozarteums Salzburg/Sandor Végh) and in the documentary, including the Klavierstück Op. 23/2 (not to mention a shot of Rockingham Avenue, Los Angles, where he sought refuge).

The close of the film is infinitely touching – lists of composers and performers lost due to the atrocities.

This is no easy ride, but is necessary viewing for all concerned with activities in and around Germany in the War years.

Colin Clarke

You may also be interested in

Verbotene Klange. Komponisten im Exil/Forbidden Sounds. Composers in Exile Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Drei Ballettstücke Triumph der Zeit (1903) Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg/Gerd Albrecht Franz SCHRECKER (1878-1934) Schwanensang Op.11 WDR Rundfunkchor und Rundfunkorchester Köln/Peter Gülke Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Duo for Violin and Violoncello (1925) Gernot Süssmuth (violin) Hans-Jakob Eschenburg (cello) Viktor ULLMANN (1898-1944) Don Quixote tanzt Fandango (1944) – reconstructed from the short score by Bernhard Wulff Gürzenich Orchester Köln/James Conlon Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Trumpet Sonata (1939) Reinhold Friedrich (trumpet) Thomas Duis (piano) Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Verklärte Nacht for string orchestra Op.4 (1943) Camerata Academica des Mozarteums Salzburg/Sandor Végh Egon WELLESZ (1885-1974) Symphonischer Epilog (1969) Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Roger Epple Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974) String Quartet No.1 Op.5 (1912) Petersen Quartet Hanns EISLER (1898-1962) Kleine Sinfonie Op.29 (1931/32) Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Hans E Zimmer Franz WAXMAN (1906-1967) Athanael the Trumpeter – comedy overture for trumpet and orchestra (1944) Joachim Pliquett (trumpet)
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Hans E Zimmer Kurt WEILL (1900-1950) Die Dreigroschenoper (1928) – two excerpts from historic recordings Die Seeräuberjenny sung by Lotte Lenya Die Moritat von Mackie Messer sung by Gisela May with a studio orchestra/Henry Krtischl Ernst KRENEK (1900-1991) Zwölf Variationen in drei Sätzen Op.79 (1937) Till Alexander Körber (piano) Paul DESSAU (1894-1979) Hagadah Shel Pessach; Oratorio in Three Parts (1934-36) From Part 2 Midnight Hymn Chor des Norddeutschen Rundfunks/Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg/Gerd Albrecht Manfred GURLITT (1890-1972) Wozzeck – Musical Tragedy Op. 16 (1926) – Scenes 17, 18 and Epilogue Wozzeck – Roland Hermann (bass baritone) Marie – Celina Lindsley (soprano) Gabrielle Schreckenbach (contralto) RIAS Kammerchor/Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin/Gerd Albrecht Recorded by German radio stations, undated CAPRICCIO 67 097-99 [3 CDs 69.53 + 76.09 + 56.30] [JW]

Recorded quality from broadcast material varies ... never less than acceptable; often much more. Performances are fully committed, agile, idiomatic. ... see Full Review



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