Weill: Berlin, Paris, Broadway 1928-38

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WORKS: Berlin, Paris, Broadway 1928-38
PERFORMER: Various singers and orchestras
CATALOGUE NO: 984982 (distr. Ades/Musidisc www.epm.fr) AAD mono Reissue (1928-38)
When Kurt Weill left Germany only two months after Hitler came to power, his first port of call was Paris, where he hoped to establish himself as a successful composer of film and theatre music. In the event such efforts reaped precious little reward. For example, his one attempt to break through in the French theatre scene with the incidental music to Jacques Deval’s Marie Galante proved to be a box-office failure.


Although much documentary evidence confirms that Weill was less than fired up by his collaboration with Deval, the surviving score contains a sufficient number of vintage items to warrant an occasional revival. In fact this is the second recording of the work to have appeared in as many months (see September). But although it boasts the talents of a charismatic chanteuse delivering her numbers very much in the manner of the older Lotte Lenya, the performance from Joy Bogen and the Orchestra of St Luke’s on Koch offers a more musical rendition of the songs and superior instrumental playing.


The rest of the Assai release features some fascinating historic recordings of excerpts from the French adaptation of the Dreigroschenoper. Yet those interested in exploring such material would be better advised to hear the excellent transfers in EPM’s boxed set, which charts the recorded dissemination of Weill’s music in Europe and America during the Thirties in far greater depth, and includes some amazing novelties, not least the ‘Barbara Song’ performed in Czech in 1931 by one M Buresova with instrumental accompaniment from the inimitable RA Dvorsky and the Melody Boys. Erik Levi