Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dessau, Paul - Einstein – Theo Adam,Peter Schreier, Otmar Suitner, Staatskapelle Berlin

 


 

 

 

 

Review:

Paul Dessau's opera, Einstein, with a libretto by Karl Mickel, has withstood at least the first test of time. Manifestly political and a reflection of the era (the early 1970's) and locality (the German Democratic Republic) of its composition, many aspects of Einstein still resonate in our changed climate. More than twenty years after its 1974 premiere it has at least provisionally staked out a minor place in the opera repertoire. This definitive recording, of the 1978 Ruth Berghaus production, with Theo Adam as Einstein, is available, making the opera accessible to a wider, international audience. Paul Dessau

As an exile from Nazi Germany, Albert Einstein helped the Americans to develop  the atomic bomb in order to defeat German fascism. But in Paul Dessau’s opera of 1974, such action appears to have profound social consequences, Einstein soon realizing that the power in whose hands he has placed himself breeds a new form of fascism. As a result he loses faith in the humanistic value of his work to the extent of burning a new scientific formula on which he has been working for twenty years. It’s certainly a thought-provoking scenario, but in the time-honored tradition of Brecht, Dessau’s music generally serves the function of interpreting, rather than enhancing the text. In this respect, the score’s frequent allusions to familiar pieces of music, from Bach to Richard Strauss, proves unusually disturbing. I am thinking here particularly of the scene in Act I where storm troopers vandalise Einstein’s flat to the distorted accompaniments of Bach’s Dorian Toccata for organ and the chorale, ‘Vom Himmel hoch’. Without doubt, the chilling immediacy of such episodes is brilliantly captured by the performers in this fascinating release.-- Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine

 

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