The years between the two world wars proved productive for many composers in Europe, despite cultural and political instability and the growing threat of Nazism. Yet in the aftermath of World War II, despite many efforts to revive music which the Nazis had condemned as degenerate, several composers remained in the shadows, and the work of resuscitating their music continues. Unheard, a 2017 release on Channel Classics, presents world premiere recordings by the Ebony Quartet of compositions that have never appeared on LP or CD, and the selections by Erich Itor Kahn, Hans Walter Süsskind, Josef Matthias Hauer, Otto Jokl, and Louis Gruenberg are given lucid readings that necessarily serve as all-too-brief introductions to their music. While Süsskind established a successful career after WWII as a conductor, the vocal music heard here is from his youth, and Hauer is mostly known to music theorists for his discovery of a method of 12-tone composition, independent of Schoenberg's system; and even though some of Kahn's piano music has been recorded, he and Jokl are nonetheless deeply obscure figures, and their music for string quartet provides mere glimpses into their respective styles. Something of a misfit is Vier Indiskretionen by Louis Gruenberg, a jaunty work that seems rather like a tongue-in-cheek cross between Bartók and American popular music. The Ebony Quartet is joined by mezzo-soprano Barbara Kozelj in Süsskind's Vier Lieder, and narrator Daniel Reuss in the same composer's Rechenschaft über uns, though quartet music dominates this album, so this disc may have strongest appeal to fans of string chamber music.
Unheard: Otto Jokl, Erich Itor Kahn, Josef Matthias Hauer, Hans Walter Süsskind, Louis Gruenberg Review
by Blair Sanderson
|Rechenschaft über uns|
|Fünf Stücke für Quartett Op. 30|
|Zweites Streichquartett Op. 28|
|Vier Indiskretionen für String Quartett Op. 20|