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Hanns EISLER (1898-1962)
Lieder Volume 3: Songs in American Exile 1938-1948
Holger Falk (baritone), Steffen Schleiermacher (piano)
rec. Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster, Germany, 2017
MDG 613 2084-2 [80:16]

Dabringhaus und Grimm continue their survey with another interesting and well-filled disc, 53 songs in total, from the composer’s American period, only twelve of which are known to me from Imgard Arnold’s Berlin Classics recordings, now collected in an impressive 10 CD box set on Brilliant (9430). With many of the songs presented here also featuring on Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s fine collection of 32 of Eisler’s American period songs (4509-97459-2), (with this present disc being more comprehensive). I was so impressed with volume one of this series that I not only went on to listen to every disc of the music of Hanns Eisler that I have in my collection, but have also invested in another couple of discs of his music, including Matthias Goerne’s disc of lieder (HMC 902134) some of which are included here, but, stupidly not volume two of this series, at least not not yet.

If anything, the songs presented here offer more of a challenge to the performer and listener alike, some drawing on the German cabaret tradition of the 1920’s and 30’s whilst others, including the short Brecht song ‘Die letzte Elegie’, a little musically harsh sounding, whilst others, including the song that follows it ‘Hollywood-Elegie Nr. 7’ (I saw my friends and the friend I loved the most), another setting of Brecht, are instantly approachable. This is one of only four songs presented here that have a text in English, but it is not that that makes it approachable, although it is the best-known song on the disc; it has a tune that reminds me of something else, and try as I might, I can not think of what. Whilst ‘Hölderlin Fragmente’, especially the third, ‘Elergie 1943’, had me searching for a translation due to their wonderfully tuneful beauty, thankfully five of the six songs appear in Faber and Faber’s The Book of Lieder (9780571224395), with the texts suiting the music well. There are even songs which, like ‘Der Schatzgräber’, sound as if they have been lifted out of musical theatre.

Once again, I find myself impressed with Holger Falk’s voice, especially as he changes effortlessly from the cabaret-sounding songs to the more expressive sounding song styles represented here. He seems an ideal exponent of this music, and I must say that I prefer the deeper tones of the baritone voice over that of Imgard Arnold, whilst I find him a little more expressive than Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s and Matthias Goerne’s fine discs. Steffen Schleiermacher once again proves to be an excellent pianist and accompanist, with his wonderful playing adding a lot to these song texts. The disc is accompanied with an excellent booklet essay and full texts, although sadly, due to copyright issues not translations, but many are to be found elsewhere, e.g. at www.lieder.net, where you will find many of these songs with translations, but even here there are restrictions. This is an intriguing disc, one which fills in some blanks in my Hanns Eisler collection, but one which also makes me want to hear more, I must invest in volume 2 and look forward to the final disc in this proposed four-disc series.

Stuart Sillitoe

Track listing
1. Elegie 1939 [2:00]
2. Spruch 1939 [1:42]
3. Über die Dauer des Exils I [1:42]
4. Über die Dauer des Exils II [1:06]
Hollywooder Liederbuch Der Sohn
5. I Wenn sie nachts lag [1:49]
6. II Mein junger Sohn fragt mich [1:47]
7. In den Weiden [1:06]
8. An den kleinen Radioapparat [1:05]
9. Frühling [1:19]
10. Speisekammer 1942 [1:28]
11. Auf der Flucht [1:21]
12. Die Flucht [0:44]
13. Über den Selbstmord [2:08]
14. Gedenktafel für 4000 Soldaten [0:32]
15. Epitaph auf einen in der Flandernschlacht Gefallenen [0:36]
16. Spruch [1:09]
17. Panzerschlacht [0:50]
18. Ostersonntag [1:35]
19. Der Kirschdieb [1:17]
20. Hotelzimmer 1942 [1:53]
21. Die Maske des Bösen [1:13]
Zwei Lieder nach Worten von Pascal
22. I [2:05]
23. II [1:59]
24. Winterspruch [0:39]
Fünf Elegien
25. I [0:49]
26. II [1:27]
27. III [1:03]
28. IV [1:21]
29. V [0:48]
30. Die letzte Elegie [0:57]
31. Hollywood-Elegie Nr. 7 [1:24]
32. Kalifornischer Herbst [1:55]
33. Erinnerung an Eichendorff und Schumann [0:43]
Anakreontische Fragmente
34. I Geselligkeit betreffend [0:56]
35. II [1:02]
36. III Die Unwürde des Alterns [1:48]
37. IV Später Triumph [1:17]
38. V In der Frühe [1:51]
Hölderlin Fragmente
39. I An die Hoffnung [1:13]
40. II Andenken [1:54]
41. III Elegie 1943 [2:34]
42. IV Die Heimat [1:13]
43. V An eine Stadt [3:42]
44. VI Erinnerung [2:29]
45. Der Mensch [0:55]
46. Vom Sprengen des Gartens [0:57]
47. Die Landschaft des Exils [1:27]
48. Rimbaud-Gedicht [1:35]
49. Der Schatzgräber [4:04]
50. Nightmare [1:10]
51. Die Heimkehr [1:42]
52. In Sturmesnacht [1:27]
53. Lied einer deutschen Mutter [1:40]




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