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Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Hanns Eisler, Hangmen Also Die, the 400 Million, The Grapes of Wrath, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Kalitzke
It is tragic, for his music bears the stamp of a modern original. Thankfully, recordings of his works are far more plentiful than they once were. A fine example is this recent release, of a number of soundtracks from his American period: Hangmen Also Die, The 400 Million and The Grapes of Wrath (Capriccio 5289). These soundtracks cover the years 1938-43 and complement the box set of earlier works I have reviewed on these pages (see index search box above). Also included on this CD are the "Kleine Symphonie" of 1932 and the very brief "Horfleissubung" from 1931.
The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under Johannes Kalitzer do the honors for these works and their dedication gives us what sound to be very fitting performances, spirited and detailed.
The pronounced modernist edge to the music recorded here reminds us that, after all, Eisler was a pupil of Schoenberg and even when composing film scores there can be heard an unwavering contemporary slant. He presents a wealth of thematic elements that attract and are situated within masterful developmental and orchestrational poetics.
The pronounced trainwreck of my life right now means that I have had a little trouble devoting the absolute attention that this music demands and deserves. Nevertheless I can vouch for its excellence. I need to come back to it all again in the near future. Still, I do not hesitate to recommend this album to you as a very worthy presentation of substantial music from a sadly neglected period of his career. Do hear this!