LABELS: Decca Entartete Musik
WORKS: Der letzte Pierrot; Symphony No. 1
PERFORMER: Deutsches SO Berlin/Israel Yinon
CATALOGUE NO: 455 315-2
Decca has done it again. Michael Haas’s ingenious Entartete Musik series has delivered a flood of fascinating scores which fell foul of Dr Goebbels in the vile Thirties. Hot on the heels of Hans Krása’s opera Verlobung im Traum, Decca has now miraculously injected life into yet another curiously neglected unknown.
Karol Rathaus, a Schreker pupil, shrewdly fled as early as 1932 to Paris, London and later the US, where he struggled to survive through writing film music and teaching. Born in 1895, and hence a contemporary of Hindemith, Schulhoff and Ullmann, he was, like them, dazzled by the ferment in art and theatre which, in Austro-Germany, continued unabated through the Great War.
Rathaus’s Symphony and his intriguing ballet Der letzte Pierrot, with its dreamlike Harlequinade scenario, rub shoulders comfortably with the Twenties Expressionism of Schoenberg, Berg and Hindemith. These are both hefty, violently questing works, almost aggressively thick-scored and riddled with rasping, sneering brass (brilliantly delivered by the superb Berlin players). Yinon is remarkably successful at making sense of these big-brush scores and Decca has allowed the orchestra adequate rehearsal time to get beneath the notes and attack this daunting task properly. Congratulations all round.