Weill: Dance Band Arrangements

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COMPOSERS: Weill
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Dance Band Arrangements
PERFORMER: Max Raabe (vocals); Palast Orchester/HK Gruber
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63513 2
Considering that he cultivated such a distinctive style of orchestration in his music, it may appear surprising that Kurt Weill never raised serious objections to the idea that his most popular songs could be dressed up in a whole host of arrangements for different instrumental groups. This practice had already begun in the late Twenties when his publishers Universal Edition capitalised on the commercial success of the Dreigroschenoper by commissioning a number of reworkings for dance band and salon orchestra of some of its best-known numbers.

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The Threepenny Opera arrangements undoubtedly form the highlight of this disc, for the instrumentation never compromises the original, and in most cases preserves its rawness of sonority. None is more compelling than Jerzy Fitelberg’s ‘Kanonen-Song’ – delivered with such a blistering level of attack and virtuosity by the Palast Orchester that you cannot help but press the repeat button on your CD player several times.

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The arrangements of some of Weill’s Broadway songs are more conventionally smoochy, but are no less effective in projecting that unique mixture of melancholy and nostalgia that is so typical of the composer’s American period. Once again the performances are sophisticated in execution, but still project a tremendous enjoyment and affection for the music. Erik Levi