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Cat. No. CHAN 9820 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9820 - Eisler: Die Mutter
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Available From: 25 May 2000
The unaccompanied works on this disc give a measure of Eisler’s versatility. The ‘Four Pieces’, Op. 13 are settings of his own texts dating from 1928 and 1929. Eisler’s text of 1928 had said ‘Our singing must also be part of our fight’. In none of these four settings are the singers allowed to ignore the purpose and import of what they are doing. This is even more emphatically so in the 1930 setting of Brecht’s poem ‘Litanei vom Hauch’.

The transition from the densely chromatic and serial music of Eisler’s first seven opus numbers to the idiom of the marching songs and theatre music was gradual and logical. By mid 1931, Eisler had created his new and original ‘Massenlied’ style – stamping marching rhythms, minor key but modally inflected tunes and a straightforward verse/refrain strophic form, all spiced up with spiky and often jazzy counterpoints.

‘Die Mutter’ (1931) is an adaptation of Gorky’s novel of the same name and concerns the political education of an illiterate working woman, who begins to observe the actions of her son with concern, but ends with her carrying a flag at a political demonstration. It began as a play with nine musical numbers, but the completed and published score was expanded due to the popularity of the songs and consisted of thirteen numbers accompanied by nine instruments, although other arrangements by the composer exist.

By 1941 and the composition of the ‘Woodbury-Liederbüchlein’, Eisler had been in exile for eight years and had travelled though Europe, engaging in the fight against facism, and among other things had taught at the School for Social Research in New York. The work was composed at the request of a school teacher in a small town in New Jersey, whose choir clearly enjoyed a challenge.
Reviews

This Swiss recording [is] remarkably sensitive…
The Guardian ‘Classical CD of the Week’

 

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