- Audio CD (21 Feb. 2012)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Live
- Label: ECM New Series
- ASIN: B00006F2WK
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,715 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Heiner Goebbels pays homage to a formative influence, German composer Hanns Eisler (1898-1962), in an album of great charm. "Eislermaterial" is one of Goebbels most popular works. It has delighted audiences around Europe and received much positive press since it was premiered in 1998.
In "Eislermaterial" Goebbels presents a multi-faceted portrait of Hanns Eisler. At the centre of the work are the touching songs of exile, which Eisler wrote together with Brecht, persuasively sung by German actor Josef Bierbichler. There are also montages from an original documentation with Eisler's voice, newly arranged excerpts from Eisler's chamber music, fragments from an unpublished string quartet, a newly discovered composition for solo clarinet, and Eisler-inspired improvisations.
Top Customer Reviews
For this listener, there are strong similarities to the Tom Waits of the Swordfishtrombones-Raindogs-Franks Wild Years period: an intoxicating blend of deadpan humour, love and tenderness and ascerbic social observation. Plus wildly quirky music and intrusive found sounds. The whole is NOT a chaotic mess, but rather something of great charm.
The interview with Goebbels and the full lyrics make the disc as much a pleasure to read as to listen to. Brecht's poems give the songs a depth of meaning rare in much - most? - modern music.
This is a superb disc and highly recommended to anyone interested in the music and culture of another, less well-known, more human Germany of fifty-odd years ago.
I was perplexed when I first heard this, trying to find Goebbels's music. I finally realized that there isn't any. It's all Eisler, Goebbels's contribution is arrangements, the editing and assembling of all the Eislermaterial, and the minimal staging. I guess I'm old school, not quite postmodern enough, but it seems to me that this should be listed under Hanns Eisler, or at least Goebbels *and* Eisler. When a cover band puts together a show, do they get credit for the compositions? When a record label puts out a cleverly arranged greatest hits collection, does a record label producer get composer credit? You see my point. This is a very effective set of music, combining Eisler's lieder and instrumental music, but I think Heiner Goebbels should get second billing to the composer -- Hanns Eisler. Goebbels doesn't just have chutzpah, he was heavily influenced in his appropriating/reassembling aesthetic by the radical German playwright Heiner Muller, with whom Goebbels collaborated extensively in the 1980s.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
I was perplexed when I first heard this, trying to find Goebbels's music. I finally realized that there isn't any. It's all Eisler, Goebbels's contribution is arrangements, the editing and assembling of all the Eislermaterial, and the minimal staging. I guess I'm old school, not quite postmodern enough, but it seems to me that this should be listed under Hanns Eisler, or at least Goebbels *and* Eisler. (I have changed the item listing so it now comes up under Eisler as well as Goebbels.) When a cover band puts together a show, do they get credit for the compositions? When a record label puts out a cleverly arranged greatest hits collection, does a record label producer get composer credit? You see my point. This is a very effective set of music, combining Eisler's lieder and instrumental music, but I think Heiner Goebbels should get second billing to the composer -- Hanns Eisler. Goebbels doesn't just have chutzpah, he was heavily influenced in his appropriating/reassembling aesthetic by the radical German playwright Heiner Muller, with whom Goebbels collaborated extensively in the 1980s. As Goebbels puts it: "I did not see my task so much as inventing something in which Eisler appears from time to time -- but rather to construct from a very personal perspective a great compositional progression exclusively from his material which contains Eisler's whole musical bandwidth and not to reduce him to either the 'academic' Eisler or Eisler the 'fighter."
Included are nine of Eisler's superb lieder, eight of them settings of Brecht poems: Children's Anthem, And I shall never again see, Four Lullabies for Working Mothers, The Grey Goose, Mother Beimlein, Of Sprinkling the Garden, On Suicide, and War Song. The final song, Eventually, sets a poem by Peter Altenberg. It is the songs that make EISLERMATERIAL so good, with Brecht's incomparable poetry. There are instrumental pieces too, including excerpts from the Kleine Sinfonie, the Suite fur Septet No. 1, the Funf Orchesterstucke, the Orchestersuite No. 3, and a string quartet fragment. Eisler was a student of Schoenberg and employed 12-tone techniques, but these sections are wonderful,lively and exuberant, perfectly complementing the songs -- bravo to the arranger! There are also passages for improvisation by the Ensemble Modern. And finally, there are two Horstuck (audio dramas), which are collages of Eisler interviewed by Hans Bunge (available from Berlin Classics -- "Ask Me More About Brecht"), non-linear fragments played off of one another. The creation and placement of these Horstuck are the most conspicuous contributions of Heiner Goebbels to the entire work.
So EISLERMATERIAL includes the words and the voice of Hanns Eisler. This ECM disc was recorded live in 1998 in Berlin, and the live performance features a little statue of Eisler in the center of the stage, Eisler conducting. There is no actual conductor. The Ensemble Modern sits on wooden benches along the back and both sides of the stage. The pianist requires a mirror to see the other players in order to follow cues and stay in time. Given that there is no stage drama, EISLERMATERIAL works perfectly on disc unlike most of Goebbels's other recordings. Bierbichler's voice is perfectly suited for the lieder. Goebbels chose him because he is not a professional singer, he is an actor. He has a fine, slightly wobbly, voice, but sounds like a working man, not an opera singer.
ECM includes one of their splendid booklets, 98 pages, and encloses the CD jewel case and booklet in a box. All the lyrics, including the interview fragments, are included in German, English and French. There are 11 black-and-white photos, including one of Eisler with Brecht, one of Bierbichler singing, and one of the Ensemble Modern on stage during a performance. My favorite is a rather young Eisler holding a cat.
EISLERMATERIAL opens with the melodic, moving Children's Anthem, a tune which will stick in your head for days. It closes with Eventually -- "Eventually, longing dies, too." "Looking back to youthful days, long since swept away and someone murmurs to you: you're fortunate." This sad, wistful little song is the perfect ending, and causes me to reflect on the activism of my youthful days. The dream of a better world lives on, though many have fought and died and been defeated. EISLERMATERIAL is a moving tribute to Hanns Eisler, who fought for that dream, and an inspiration to all who carry on today.
The objection to politics and music persists well to today, I recall how Berio had no use for Eisler's political affinity as well,that his art was "simpleminded" perhaps, Berio had rendered the avant-garde as a conceptual dilution in many respects,a simple minded affair(his Sinfonia) despite Berio's profound affinity for the buzz of the Sixties rebellions always taking the easy path of the implications of the post-Webern aesthetic. perhaps something more profound was obtained with post-serial renderings.
Eisler was well read and consciously turned his back on the aesthetics of the century,a famous quote was that if it is possible only to know one, (either politics or music) the fact remains that one comes to know neither.
A hommage to Eisler can only be known in this fascinating assemblage-like durational plan of Goebbels. That of simply utilizing directly Eisler's famous Songs,Orchestral and Chamber music as "materials", a concept from Heiner Muller(the heir/apparent to Brecht), whom Goebbels has worked with.So the musical plan is really arbitrary,as long as the Eisler's deep moments are affirmed, as the Songs.
I thought the accompaniment was a bit heavy at times, not really fully acknowledging Eisler subtle use of simplicity,directedness,and threadbare textures to convey weighted text, as the "Lullabys". Eisler was an economical composer nothing was ornamental or extraneous to his aesthetic.He preferred to comment on the emotions rather than convey them.Goebbels the use of the brass,(an Eislerian timbre)the tuba has incredible weight.And at times it is too much. These "Vier Wiegenlieder"(Lullabys) are something quite gentle,private and introspective.Brecht's text frequently allows the mother to address her child reflecting upon a past and future reality.
I think this high,heavyhandedness persists thoroughout the entire hour here. There is also impassioned playing from the Ensemble Modern, avant-garde like timbres, fluttetonguing,wind harmonics, multiphonics, that is all part of the commmentary of this "assemblage/hommage".Likewise within the Song "Mutter Beimlein", who walked with a wooden leg,I once heard the accompaniment(originally for piano solo) simply with voice and Bass Clarinet. Here Goebbels summons the Tuba again to play this loop like rhythm that suggests the particular "limp" of Ms.Beimlein., quite unassuming and beautiful with a dignity. Again this was Eisler's genius to suggest the greatest lifeworlds with the barest of musical means.
I like the idea of utilizing excerpts (materials) from the Orchestral pieces,a deconstruction of sorts, these are seldom heard even today, and toward the end Goebbels finds Eisler's "String Quartet", a never published work along with a Bb Clarinet Solo to excerpt. The singing, all of it by Josef Bierbichler is dark enough and forceful enough but the absence of women,makes this hommage rather one-dimensional, their dark viola women timbres are necessary to convey the darker complex moments of the Eisler/Brecht materials. There is then "Hoerstuck"in two parts,as interruptions of the musical flow of Eisler's interview with Hans Bunge, that had initially inspired Goebbels to make Eisler a lifelong mentor. The Master's voice is always useful surrounded by his music. The overall effect here is like leafing through a newspaper, idly stopping at points, accelerating in others.