Eisler was trained by Schoenberg in the great classical tradition but during the turbulent years of the Weimar Republic repudiated "art for art's sake" and turned his attention towards music with a social conscience. You would expect to see him only on the barricades, not in the recital hall, but Eisler was also a man of contradictions, and here he produces what Viennese musicologist Erwin Ratz described as the greatest cycle of German lieder in the 20th century.
Goerne is one of the rising stars of German classical song, and in this recording his velvety but intense style is showcased in the only complete recording of Eisler's "Hollywood Songbook."
The style is diverse ... ranging from lieder that are "almost Schubertian in their tenderness" (according to one reviewer) to songs in the twelve-tone style Eisler pioneered along with other great students of Schoenberg.
Most of the songs are set to poems from the wartime exile years written by Bertolt Brecht. These compact but powerful texts testify to Brecht's significance not only as a revolutionary playwright but as a great poet whose eyes were fixed on the world around him.
Goerne told one reviewer why he chose to record and perform lieder by a composer who until recently was virtually unknown outside of Germany: "For me, this chance discovery of this huge body of work by a real 20th century composer was a revelation, in that here was an artist comparable, in my opinion, to Brahms. The integrity, the consciousness of the times is so very great in Eisler that I was inspired to combine his songs with those of Schubert. The language of both composers, and you might also say the aim, is essentially the same despite superficial differences, and one might say that the 'Hollywood Liederbuch' is the 'Winterreise' of our times."