Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Strasfogel
LABELS: Decca Entartete Musik
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 2; Preludio fugato; Dear Men and Women
PERFORMER: Kolja Lessing (piano)Martin A Bruns (baritone)
CATALOGUE NO: 455 359-2
Ignace Strasfogel (1909-94) must be one of the least known of the Entartete Musik rediscoveries. A contemporary and fellow student of Berthold Goldschmidt in Berlin in the Twenties, he escaped in 1934 to America where he spent the rest of his life as a pianist, conductor and teacher. His geographical dislocation in the Thirties temporarily put paid to his composing, there was a brief return in the Forties and then he did not take it up again, remarkably, until the mid-Eighties. This disc documents all three periods.


His two Piano Sonatas (1925-6) and Preludio fugato (1946) combine the attention to textural detail of his teacher Schreker with the extended tonality of his other idol, Berg. In the Second Sonata, there’s also a hint of neo-classicism, with an amusing take on Bach at the opening. From Strasfogel’s last decade come a brief Scherzo (1992) and a song cycle Dear Men and Women (1985) for which, owing to copyright difficulties, no text is provided here, nor is the writer of the words even named.


Kolja Lessing has made the music of Strasfogel something of a personal crusade and makes a telling advocate. Less satisfactory is the Swiss baritone Martin A Bruns in the song cycle – his voice could be firmer. Nevertheless, the disc is indispensable for those avidly collecting Decca’s series. Matthew Rye