Samstag, 18. Juni 2022

Stefan Wolpe - Entartete Musik - Zeus und Elida - Schöne Geschichten - (2000)

This disc, part of Decca's Entartete Musik series of composers suppressed by the Nazis, features Stefan Wolpe's political theater works of the 1920s, enabling a more complete picture of his artistic development. Zeus und Elida is a Dada-esque work that Wolpe accurately labeled a "musical grotesque." The story line has Zeus retiring to earth and obsessing over Elida, a whore. Things go frantically downhill from there, to music derived from dances ranging from the Charleston and tango to csárdás. Schoene Geschichten is a surrealistic chamber opera of seven brief vignettes, the text of some reading like Abbott and Costello routines. The disc's last work includes a ghostly choral chant, Stimmen aus dem Massengrab ("Voices from the Mass Grave"), a chilling augur of the coming horrors. --Dan Davis
Zeus Und Elida, Op.5a: Musikalische Groteske Für Solisten, Sprecher, Chor Und Orchester · Musical Grotesque For Soloists, Speaker, Chorus And Orchestra 26:42
5Rezitativ I0:15
7Foxtrott (Jazz-Duett)2:58
8Rezitativ II2:01
10Konzert Mit Variationen3:08
12Blues (Solo Und Duett Mit Chor)4:22
13Fortsetzung Des Konzertes1:01
14Rezitativ III0:33
17Coda (Potpourri)0:25
Schöne Geschichten, Op.5b: Kammeroper · Chamber Opera 23:56
19Religion Oder Die Geschichte Von Der Begegnung Mit Dem Lieben Gott1:33
20Recht Oder Die Geschichte Vom Herrn Tannenbaum5:23
21Bildung Oder Die Geschichte Von Der Balzac-Ausgabe2:03
22Liebe Oder Die Geschichte Vom Papier13:25
23Philosophie (Gleichnis Vom Leben)0:36
Blues – Stimmen Aus Den Massengrab – Marsch 7:05
26Stimmen Aus Dem Massengrab3:03

 For listeners who can't imagine a halfway point between Schoenberg and Satie-or perhaps a tenfold multiplication of Kurt Weill's biting irony and sardonic use of jazz-these short operas by Stefan Wolpe will come as a revelation. Influenced in equal parts by socialism, serialism and Dada, Wolpe's 1928 stage works have been long forgotten, or in the case of 'Zeus und Elida,' never performed at all until 1997.

In 'Zeus,' the Greek god descends upon Berlin's bustling Potsdamer Platz-a location of modern urban life brilliantly and chaotically evoked by Wolpe. Zeus is understandably confused; after singing a Tango, he searches for his beloved Europa but finds a prostitute instead, only to wind up arrested for, among other things, impersonating a god.

'Schöne Geschichten' is even more unconventional: seven "pretty stories" (actually scathing jokes), accompanied by the highly complex and atonal music of an eight-piece jazz ensemble. Taking on science, religion, justice, culture, love, philosophy and patriotism, Wolpe dramatizes gaps in communication and points out the ways in which society fails to live up to its high ideals. The satirical diction used by the singers in this work should be apparent even to non-German speakers, and the Ebony Band brings impressive accuracy to the music, equal parts swing and sting. Once again, Decca/London's 'Entartete Musik' series has done a marvelous job recovering a slice of 20th-century musical history.

Stefan Wolpe - Entartete Musik - Zeus und Elida - Schöne Geschichten - (2000)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

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