COMPOSERS: Antheil & Stuckenschmidt,Hauer,Vogel,Wolpe
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Scene
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music at the Bauhaus
WORKS: Works by Wolpe, Hauer, Vogel, Antheil & Stuckenschmidt
PERFORMER: Steffen Schleiermacher (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 603 0878-2
Although music never constituted a major field of study at the Bauhaus, many of the visual artists and architects associated with the school, founded during the Weimar Republic, retained close relationships with a number of leading avant-garde composers of the period. Indeed, some of the composers featured on this fascinating disc contributed actively to joint experimental projects in artistic synthesis. Unfortunately precious little music survives from such collaborations, and so Steffen Schleiermacher’s marvellously performed recital is more an exercise in speculation featuring works that may well have been performed at some of the Bauahaus concerts.
The menu is strikingly varied. Stefan Wolpe’s contributions range from the violently percussive Stehende Musik of 1925 to the ultra-romantic indulgence of the 1920 Adagio no. 5. There’s also a sequence of compelling agit-prop marches and a sultry Tango that inhabits a similar sound world to that of Weill or Schulhoff. The infamous ‘Bad Boy of Music’ George Antheil is represented by the zany futurist Sonatina subtitled the ‘Death of Machines’ and a bizarre Shimmy, while Busoni pupil Wladimir Vogel provides more harmonically piquant fare with a series of expressionist miniatures. Less compelling, to my mind, is the rather rarefied and four-square invention of Josef Matthias Hauer, a pioneer of twelve-note composition concurrently with Schoenberg. But in spite of this, Schleiermacher’s programme fills some vital gaps in our knowledge of Austro-German music of the 1920s and deserves a positive recommendation. Erik Levi