Weill/Berg

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Weill/Berg
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Die sieben Todsünden; Lulu Suite
PERFORMER: Angelina Réaux (soprano) Members of Hudson ShadNew York PO/Kurt Masur
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-95029-2 DDD
These two pieces make a fascinating pair. They’re both from the Thirties, by two German-speaking composers who fell foul of the Nazis, and they both have, as central characters, predatory women who use their sexuality to make their way in a male-dominated world. By the end of each work, the predator has become the victim. In The Seven Deadly Sins, Anna 1 and 2 (played by one singer) set off with high, innocent hopes of making their fortune, only to sink into prostitution. Lotte Lenya’s famous 1950 recording, pitched low (like Ute Lemper’s) is the touchstone for this piece. Her husky, tobacco-stained voice sounds disillusioned from the beginning, as if she knows what’s in store for her. On this recording, Angelina Réaux opts for the high-voice version, which gives it a completely different feel. She makes Anna’s initial innocence touchingly real, but there are glimpses of a harder chest-tone which portends her later disillusion. Réaux’s is not a particularly beautiful voice, and it has a metallic sheen which is especially noticeable in the Lulu Suite. But it’s well suited to the wild-eyed, seductive intensity of Lulu who, like Anna, destroys the men who would like to possess her. This gives her the edge over singers who make a lovelier sound, such as Arleen Auger (on EMI with the CBSO and Rattle). The NYPO are on wonderful form, particularly in the Berg, and the recording captures all the detail of Berg’s fabulously intricate score. The Weill at first seemed a bit too soft-grained, especially when compared with the brazen sounds of Lenya’s recording – but as a backdrop to Réaux’s fragile tones, it seems absolutely right. Ivan Hewett

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