Collection: Berlin Cabaret

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Edel
WORKS: Songs by Friedrich Hollaender and others
PERFORMER: Various
CATALOGUE NO: 0014532 TLR ADD mono

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Having basked in the provocative delights of Ute Lemper’s sensational release of Berlin cabaret songs over recent months, it’s fascinating to encounter some of the original recordings of these works as featured in this invaluable collection. In such cases, however, making direct comparisons between Lemper and her illustrious predecessors would be odious, for each performer brings a unique approach to their particular song.

As on Lemper’s disc, the composer Friedrich Hollaender occupies centre stage in the proceedings with a variety of entertaining and politically challenging songs. Other luminaries include Mischa Spoliansky, chiefly represented here by a potpourri of numbers from his revue ‘Es liegt in der Luft’, and Hanns Eisler, whose sharply ironic setting of Brecht’s ‘Der Marsch ins dritte Reich’, recorded only 12 days before Hitler came to power, provides a chilling conclusion to the whole set.

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There is much here to remind us of the frenzied creative vitality of the Weimar Republic and, for students of German 20th-century musical history, these discs must be regarded as essential listening. It’s a pity, though, that Edel have failed to take account of potential international interest in such material, and the absence of any English translations of both the exhaustive liner notes and the song-texts is extremely regrettable. Erik Levi