Ensemble Aventure

Ensemble Aventure plays Schulhoff & Wolpe

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The booklet notes to this German reissue are inadequate. They devote themselves mostly to the Dadaist movement in music, which is partially relevant to three of the pieces on the disc and not at all to the other two. They omit the words for some of the texted pieces and give the others only in German. And worst of all, they miss the humor of Erwin Schulhoff, which seems more apparent and more delightful with each subsequent release. Consider the airy Divertissement for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon, of 1927, full of cheeky mixtures of French neo-classicism and American jazz, which Schulhoff seems to have understood better than any other European composer of the time. The brisk, brief movements include a "Charleston" (track 4) and one puzzlingly called "Florida." Even Baßnachtigall (Bass Nightingale) and the song cycle Die Wolkenpumpe (The Cloud-Pump), both from 1922 and intersecting with the Dadaist impulse, do not aim at the intentional chaos and rejection of existing forms that generally characterized the movement. Baßnachtigall, for solo contrabassoon (and when was the last time you heard music in that medium?) is a sort of grim parody of music of the 17th century, which was a remarkable enough achievement in itself. The Dada poetry setting of Stefan Wolpe's An Anna Blume von Kurt Schwitters, "for piano and musical clown," and an oboe sonata by Wolpe that captures the utter despair of the immediate pre-World War II period round out a fine program that deserved better presentation. The Ensemble Aventure easily shifts between its light and dark phases.

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