Donnerstag, 17. August 2017

Hanns Eisler - Klingende Dokumente II

The historical recordings featured on the four LPs "Klingende Dokumente" offer valuable clues to the life and work of one of the most versatile and influential composers of the 20th century. Alongside Alban Berg and Anton von Webern, Hanns Eisler was the third of Arnold Schoenberg´s pupils to be acknowledged as a "master" by his mentor. He was the first Marxist-inspired musician of talent and stature to succeed, from the late 1920s onwards, in overcoming the social isolation of bourgeois musical art through politically intelligent and socially relevant music written in an advanced idiom.

The included performance of his "Serious Songs" ("Ernste Gesänge") was not directed by Eisler himself. It has been included in this set because the composer made comments on this work in a conversation taped shortly before his death ("To win the future you must come to terms with the past" / "Wer die Zukunft haben will, muss die Vergangenheit bewältigen", from a conversation with Hans Bunge, 14 August 1962). These songs represent his last compositional effort. He did not live to see them performed. 

"Klingende Dokumente II" was released in 1974 on the NOVA label.


A1Unterricht bei Schönberg
A2Die Tage der Kommune
A3Inhalt und Form
A4Schwejk im Zweiten Weltkrieg
A5Über moderne Musik
B1Bei Prominenten zu Gast
B2Wer die Zukunft haben will, muß die Vergangenheit bewältigen
B3Ernste Gesänge für Bariton und Streichorchester

(320 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 15. August 2017

Mikis Theodorakis - Epitafios (1964)

Michael “Mikis” Theodorakis (born 29 July 1925) is a Greek songwriter and composer who has written over 1000 songs. He scored for the films Zorba the Greek (1964), Z (1969), and Serpico (1973). He composed the “Mauthausen Trilogy” also known as “The Ballad of Mauthausen”, which has been described as the “most beautiful musical work ever written about the Holocaust” and possibly his best work. He is viewed as Greece’s best-known living composer. He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize.

Politically, he is associated with the left because of his long-standing ties to the Communist Party of Greece. He was an MP for the KKE from 1981 to 1990. Nevertheless, in 1989 he ran as an independent candidate within the centre-right New Democracy party, in order for the country to emerge from the political crisis that had been created due to the numerous scandals of the government of Andreas Papandreou,[9] and helped establish a large coalition between conservatives, socialists and leftists. In 1990 he was elected to the parliament (as in 1964 and 1981), became a government minister under Constantine Mitsotakis, and fought against drugs and terrorism and for culture, education and better relations between Greece and Turkey. He continues to speak out in favor of left-liberal causes, Greek–Turkish–Cypriot relations, and against the War in Iraq. He has consistently opposed oppressive regimes and was a key voice against the 1967–1974 Greek junta, which imprisoned him.

He went to Athens in 1943, and became a member of a Reserve Unit of ELAS, and led a troop in the fight against the British and the Greek right in the Dekemvriana. During the Greek Civil War he was arrested, sent into exile on the island of Icaria and then deported to the island of Makronisos, where he was tortured and twice buried alive.
During the periods when he was not obliged to hide, not exiled or jailed, he studied from 1943 to 1950 at the Athens Conservatoire under Filoktitis Economidis. In 1950, he finished his studies and took his last two exams "with flying colours". He went to Crete, where he became the "head of the Chania Music School" and founded his first orchestra.  At this time he ended what he has called the first period of his musical writing.

In 1954 he travelled with his young wife Myrto Altinoglou to Paris where he entered the Conservatory and studied musical analysis under Olivier Messiaen and conducting under Eugene Bigot. His time in Paris, 1954–1959, was his second period of musical writing.

In 1960, Theodorakis returned to Greece and his roots in genuine Greek music: With his song cycle Epitaphios he started the third period of his composing and contributed to a cultural revolution in his country.

This album features the first recording of Epitaphios from August 1960 with Nana Mouskouri on vocals.


Πού Πέταξε Τ' Αγόρι Μου
Χείλι Μου Μοσκομύριστο
Μέρα Μαγιού
Βασίλεψες Αστέρι Μου
Νάχα Τ' Αθάνατο Νερό
Στο Παραθύρι Στεκόσουν
Ήσουν Καλός Ήσουν Γλυκός
Γλυκέ Μου Εσύ
Βρέχει Στην Φτωχογειτονιά
Ένα Το Χελιδόνι
Οι Χαρταετοί

Mikis Theodorakis - Epitafios (1964)
(flac, cover art included)

Montag, 14. August 2017

Jowel Klezmorim - Unterwejgen

From the linernotes:
"Jowel Klezmorim reflects with great authenticity and stylistic accuracy the atmosphere of the music made by the Jews of central and eastern Europe.

Their album "Unterwejgen" gives palpable expression to the emotional life of a people accustomed to tears, whether of bitter sorrow or helpless mirth. The ensemble´s remarkable technical prowess enables them to penetrate deeply into the style of klezmer music and convey a sense of its essential spontaneity. Familiar and new melodies alike receive very colourful and original treatment."


Schwartz Sirba
Freyt Aykh Yidelekh
Rebe Eimeiekh
Mazl Tov
Simchat Nigun
Far Dem Chosn Un Far Der Kale
Szol A Kakas Mar
Oj Mischpoche
Berditschever Bulgar
Eyner is Got
Is Gewejn
Oyfn Veg Shteyt A Boym
Sol Sayn Gelebt
A Yidishe Mame
 Schlof Majn Kind    

Jowel Klezmorim - Unterwejgen
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 12. August 2017

Camberwell Now - The Ghost Trade (1986)

After the demise of the legendary U.K. avant-rock group This Heat in 1982, drummer and vocalist Charles Hayward joined forces with Trefor Goronwy and Stephen Rickard to record quieter, subdued song-based music. As atmospheric and deliberate, yet without the hard beats and cutting angles of his former group, Camberwell Now is as challenging, experimental, and brilliantly realized, and features more than an echo of the This Heat sound.

The group is driven along by a tight melodic sound; Hayward's beautiful, intellectual lyrics are more present than on the two previous mini albums that pre-date this 1986 release. Electronics and tape-loops create a rich textural backing, that on the closing title track culminates in a syncopated Krautrock groove that is elating, while the lyrical chant is a dark rumination on the flaws of Western society. "The Ghost Trade" contains some of Charles Hayward's more profound lyrical work.  

Arriving in 1986, The Ghost Trade, the group’s sole full-length LP, was what existed at the confluence of live performance and studio experimentation. Similar to This Heat’s process, the group spent two years in Cold Storage experimenting with the studio and assembling finished songs from vast quantities of tapes.

The tracks that eventually formed The Ghost Trade were songs forged in the bleak beauty of Thatcher’s London. “To me, the sounds invoked humanity trapped behind and inside a world constructed of glass, steel, and concrete, frozen inside the textures like prisoners of the twilight zone, humanity haunting a landscape it had made for itself,” says Hayward.


Working Nights 7:41
Sitcom 4:40
Wheat Futures 6:11
Speculative Fiction 6:09
Green Lantern 3:11
The Ghost Trade 11:11
Camberwell Now - The Ghost Trade (1986)
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Donnerstag, 10. August 2017

The New Lost City Ramblers - Same (1958)

During the folk boom of the late '50s and early '60s, the New Lost City Ramblers introduced audiences to the authentic string band sound of the 1920s and '30s, in the process educating a generation that had never heard this uniquely American sound of old-time music. While maintaining music with a social conscience, they added guts and reality to the folk movement, performing with humor and obvious reverence for the music. In 1958, Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley modeled their band after groups like the Skillet Lickers, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, and the Aristocratic Pigs, choosing a name in keeping with the past.

The performances of this group certainly improved with age, with the eventual replacement of one of the members not upsetting the status quo. That is not to say there is anything at all wrong with this album, the very first of the group's efforts and one of the miraculous times Folkways released a project the same year it was recorded. Perhaps this demonstrated great enthusiasm for the concept. For a young group to record new versions of traditional folk and old-timey music classics from the early 20th century turned out to be something along the line of marching orders for the entire folk revival of the '60s, as well as the basic operating principle for groups such as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles when they started digging into Delta blues and rockabilly. An important aspect of the Ramblers' music, and something that has continued to make their records highly enjoyable over the years, was the type of material they would find. Demonstrating the widest range of material was always a priority, nobody caring whether a tune was "hip" or not. The presence of a number such as "It's a Shame to Whip Your Wife on Sunday" shows that the politically correct police were also not supervising this project. Many of the songs are also tied in with social concerns, a theme that each of these players would return to again and again in their own work. While someone involved felt it was important to put someone else's picture on the front - and anyone who looked like a hillbilly old-timer would do - the members of the group even at this early juncture were seeking to put a personal imprint on the material. One of the highlights is the very first track on the album, a simple but riveting instrumental entitled "Forked Deer." Another is Seeger's solo version of "East Virginia Blues" which gives Bob Dylan a run, although perhaps not for his money. Some of the multi-tracking done by Seeger is also quite interesting. The enclosed booklet includes lyrics, complete documentation of the chosen selections with information about the original artists, and several statements of purpose from the group members.          


A1Forked Dear
A2Don't Let Your Deal Go Down
A3I Truly Understand
A4Dallas Rag
A5Tom Cat Blues
A6Railroading And Rambling
A7Colored Aristocracy
A8Sailor On The Deep Blue Sea
A9East Virginia
B1Battleship Maine
B2Davy, Davy
B3Roving Gambler
B4Take A Drink On Me
B5Likes Liquor Better Than Me
B6It's A Shame To Beat Your Wife
B7Brown's Ferry Blues
B8Old Fish Song
B9Crossed Old Jordan's Stream

The New Lost City Ramblers - Same (1958)
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 8. August 2017

Mitsuko Shirai & Hartmut Höll - Hölderlin Gesänge, Hölderlin Songs

This highly recommended album features recent recording on songs set to Hölderlin poetry by Eisler, Britten, Ullman, Komma, Reutter, Fröhlich, Cornelius, Jarnach, Hauer, Pfitzner and Fortner. An excellent album showing how the 19th-century Hölderlin inspired some of the great 20th-century composers.

This CD features settings of Friedrich Hölderlin poems by 11 different composers, as follows:

a. Viktor Ullmann: (1) "Abendphantasie" (Evening Fantasy), (2) "Der Frühling" (Spring)
b. Hanns Eisler: "Hölderlin-Fragmente"
c. Karl Michael Komma: 'Five Fragments of Friedrich Hölderlin'
d. Hermann Reutter: 'Three Songs after Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin'
e. Friedrich Theodor Fröhlich: "Rückkehr in die Heimat" (Return to the Homeland)
f. Peter Cornelius: "Sonnenuntergang" (Sunset)
g. Philipp Jarnach: "An eine Rose" (To a rose)
h. Josef Matthias Hauer: "Ehmals und jetzt" (Then and now)
i. Hans Pfitzner: "Abbitte" (Plea for forgiveness)
j. Wolfgang Fortner: "Geh unter, schöne Sonne" (Go down, then, lovely sun)
k. Benjamin Britten: "Hälfte des Lebens" (Half of life)

The lions' share of selections comes with selections (a) through (d), which take up over half the album's running time. Ullmann is the only composer represented with two stand-alone lieder, totaling over 10 minutes. Eisler, Komma and Reutter are represented with brief song cycles. With one exception, all of the music inhabits generally tonal or mildly chromatic harmonic territory, no surprise with Fröhlich, Cornelius, Pfitzner and Britten, in particular. Josef Matthias Hauer, who developed his own mild-version of twelve-tone composition, stretches harmonic bounds a bit more by comparison. The most "modern"-sounding of the works, to this ear, is the Komma cycle, sounding almost like an updated Alban Berg at times. Perhaps the biggest surprise, again to this listener, is the Hermann Reutter cycle, where Reutter uses a fundamentally tonal language, yet has just enough chromatic spice to make his tonality sound fresh.

In all of the cases, the composers never overwhelm the texts and make their music serve the text, rather than the other way around, as the quirky liner note by Alois Büchl accuses Richard Strauss of doing. Perhaps deliberately then, this album includes no settings of Hölderlin by Richard Strauss. It is very nice that several unfamiliar names are included, such as Philipp Jarnach, who is remembered, when remembered, for completing Busoni's opera "Doktor Faust", so it's good that Jarnach has a chance to show his own compositional work.

The husband-and-wife team of pianist Hartmut Höll and soprano Mitsuko Shirai give good performances throughout the album. There is a slightly diffident sound to the piano timbre at times. At one point, Shirai deviates ever so slightly from the printed text, in the Fröhlich setting, where she sings "....Jugend und Lieb und Glück" instead of the printed text ".....Jugend und Lieb und Lust". But that's a minor point.

None of these selections are claimed to be first recordings, but these works are hardly thick on the ground in terms of recordings. So if you have a taste for the adventurous and are interested in the poetry of Hölderlin, this album should be of interest to you, and is worth a listen.

Mitsuko Shirai & Hartmut Höll - Hölderlin Gesänge, Hölderlin Songs 
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Sonntag, 6. August 2017

Hanns Eisler - Klingende Dokumente I (NOVA, 1974)

Hanns Eisler on the meaning of music:"Someone who knows only music, understands nothing about it."

Some composers may have tried to escape the upheavals of their century through the illusion of "pure music," but not Hanns Eisler. His lifelong conviction was that music should not be subjective but objective, not obscure but transparent, not metaphysical but grounded in history. Eisler's art held up a mirror to the revolutionary hopes and bitter disappontments of his generation - a generation that witnessed two world wars, the rise and fall of empires, an age of revolutions.

"A composer knows," Eisler wrote on the eve of his expulsion from the United States, "that music is written by human beings for human beings and that music is a continuation of life, not something separated from it."

The album "Klingende Dokumente I" was released on the label NOVA (catalog number 8 85 039) in 1974. It contains vocal music with various performers, including Hanns Eisler, and interviews with the composer.


Side 1:
01. Anmut sparet nicht noch Mühe (Vocals: Hanns Eisler)
02. Das Lied im Kampfe geboren (Interview with Hanns Eisler, December 1957)
03. Ohne Kapitalisten geht es besser (Vocals: Gisela May)
04. Über die Dummheit in der Musik (Interview with Hanns Eisler by Hans Bunge, September 1961)
05. Die haltbare Graugans (Vocals: Hanns Eisler and Irmgard Arnold, recorded in 1958)

Side 2:
01. Handwerkliches Können und Höhe der Musik (Interview with Hanns Eisler by Nathan Notowicz, March 1958)
02. Die Ballade vom Wasserrad (Vocals: Hanns Eisler, recorded 1958)
03. Über Brecht (Interview with Hanns Eisler by Hans Bunge, May 1958)
04. Begegnungen mit einem Literaturindustriellen (Interview with Hanns Eisler by Hans Bunge, May 1958)
05. Lied von der belebenden Wirkung des Geldes (Vocals: Hanns Eisler, recorded 1958)

Hanns Eisler - Klingende Dokumente I (NOVA, 1974)
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 5. August 2017

Dollar Brand - Anatomy Of A South African Village (1965)

Yesterday I had fortunately the chance to experience the wonderful music of Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya live on stage. So this is a good occassion for sharing some of his music.

The melodic sounds of South Africa are fused with the improvisation of jazz and the technical proficiency of classical music by South Africa-born pianist Dollar Brand or, as he's called himself since converting to Islam in 1968, Abdullah Ibrahim. Since attracting international acclaim as a member of the Jazz Epistles, one of South Africa's first jazz bands, Ibrahim has continued to explore new ground with his imaginative playing.

In the mid-1960's, Abdullah Ibrahim (then known as Dollar Brand) was an avant-garde pianist influenced by Thelonious Monk who was not yet displaying much of his South African heritage in his music. This album was recorded at the Montmartre Jazzhuis, Copenhagen, 30th January 1965.


A1 Anatomy Of A South African Village 15:11
A2 Light Blue 6:56
B1 Tintiyana 4:31
B2 Honey 6:01
B3 'Round Midnight 6:30

Dollar Brand - Anatomy Of A South African Village (1965)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Donnerstag, 3. August 2017

The Red Army Choir - The Best Of - The Definitive Collection

The most prestigious vocal group in Russia, the Red Army Choir was renamed in 1978 after Boris Alexandrov, the troupe's director from 1946 until 1986. A large group featuring a male choir, mixed dance group, and orchestra, the Red Army Choir attracted international attention when it took first place at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1937.
Much of the group's repertoire, including such tunes as "We Are the Red Cavalry" and "Song of the Volga Boatmen," has passed into Russian folklore. In a review of the choir's self-titled 1994 album, recorded under the direction of conductor Victor Federov and released on the Naxos label, American Record Guide wrote "Naxos' sound is rich, full, vibrant, and spacious -- just like the choir itself."                

Even though I cannot speak Russian, the quality of this choral group is beyond excellent. Many of these pieces are extremely moving and stirring. Both the compositions and the performance are remarkable, above expectations.
The music is very emotive, these emotions can be shared beyond ideological questions. You can perceive a very intense feeling of comradeship and solidarity which is essential for all human beings. Also some of the exaggeration and grandiloquence that was characteristic of the Soviet regime can be found sometimes, but in this case it sounds sincere. The performance is very appropriate for this kind of music. It has nothing to do with the meaningless, empty and mechanical interpretation quite usual in military music.

The Red Army Choir - The Best Of - The Definitive Collection CD 1
The Red Army Choir - The Best Of - The Definitive Collection CD 2
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 2. August 2017

Ernst Busch - Erich Kästner (Aurora)

Erich Kästner was a pacifist and wrote for children because of his belief in the regenerating powers of youth. He was opposed to the Nazi regime in Germany that began on 30 January 1933 and was one of the signatories to the Urgent Call for Unity. However, unlike many of his fellow authors critical of the dictatorship, Kästner did not emigrate. Kästner did travel to Meran and to Switzerland just after the Nazis assumed power, and he met with exiled fellow writers there. However, Kästner returned to Berlin, arguing that he could chronicle the times better from there. It is probable that Kästner also wanted to avoid abandoning his mother. His epigram "Necessary Answer to Superfluous Questions" ("Notwendige Antwort auf überflüssige Fragen") in "Kurz und Bündig" explains Kästner's position:

I'm a German from Dresden in Saxony
My homeland won't let me go
I'm like a tree that, grown in Germany,
Will likely wither there also.

The Gestapo interrogated Kästner several times, and the writers' guild excluded him. The Nazis burnt Kästner's books as "contrary to the German spirit" during the infamous book burnings of May 10, 1933, which was instigated by the then Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Kästner witnessed the event in person. Kästner was denied entry into the new Nazi-controlled national writers' guild, the Reichsschrifttumskammer, because of what officials called the "culturally Bolshevist attitude in his writings predating 1933." This amounted to a gag order for Kästner throughout the Third Reich. Instead, Kästner published apolitical, entertaining novels such as "Drei Männer im Schnee" (Three Men in the Snow) (1934) in Switzerland. Kästner received an exemption to write the well-regarded screenplay "Münchhausen" under the pseudonym Berthold Bürger in 1942.

Ernst Busch - Erich Kästner (Aurora)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

A1 Helde in Pantoffeln
A2 Die Tretmühle
A3 Stimmen aus dem Massengrab
A4 Sergeant Waurich
Music By – H. Eisler*
B1 Kennst du das Land
Music By – G. Freundlich
B2 Das Führerproblem, genetisch betrachtet
B3 Die andere Möglichkeit
C1 Fantasie von Übermorgen
C2 Denn ihr seid dumm
D1 Der eingeseifte Barbier
D2 Hymnus auf die Bankiers
Music By – W. Simoni
D3 Der Gordische Knoten

Dienstag, 1. August 2017

Lightnin' Hopkins‎ - Broken Hearted Blues

Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins has been called "the last of the Great Blues Singers" – a poetic, haunting and unforgettable country blues bard.

These are the 1950-52 recordings, produced and recorded by Bob Shad for  his "Sittin In With" and "Jax" labels.  A strong song selection with an excellent sound.


1Hello Central
2Mary Contrary
3Bald Headed Woman
4One Kind Favor (See That My Grave Is Kept Clean)
5I Wonder Why
6Tap Dance Boogie
7Down To The River
8New Short-Haired Women
9Broken Hearted Blues
10New York Boogie
11Long Way From Texas
12Mad As I Can Be
13 I'm Beggin' You
14Why Did You Get Mad At Me?
15 Home In The Woods
16Praying Ground Blues
17 Back Home Boogie
18My Heart To Weep
19Everybody's Down On Me
20New Worried Life Blues
21I'll Never Forget The Day 

Lightnin' Hopkins‎ - Broken Hearted Blues 
(320 kbps, cover art included)