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Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins and other Songs
Kurt Weill, Vienna Radio Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies
Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins and other Songs
Genres: Pop, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1


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(4 out of 5 stars)

"W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman wrote a beautiful English translation of this stunning Weill-Brecht piece in 1958. This was originally performed at the New York City Ballet in December of that year starring my number one, ace interpreter of Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, as Anna I. In 1956, Lenya made a glorious recording of the piece in German (its original language) and it was released by Columbia Records the following year. Not a single recording since that original can touch Lenya's striking dramatic projection, but Marianne Faithfull's must be given due credit.Part of what makes Lenya's recording legendary is not only her vocal fervor as Anna but her history as the original interpreter of the role in 1933. (George Balanchine was dance choreorapher in both productions she was in--pretty distinguished company!)
The smooth English translation from the 1950's was never recorded until Marianne Faithfull decided it was high time in 1997. Too right, Marianne!Marianne Faithfull, a smoky-voiced pop/rock veteran, has rightly adopted a chanteuse style in recent years and it definitely suits her. She can not worry about sounding 'pretty' and it is just as well because 'pretty' does not suit THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS. There is a fine blend of technique such as superb phrashing and diction combined with a wonderful world-weary desperation and knowingness, all amounting to a fine display of acting and singing within her range. Knowing that she loves Kurt Weill's music, and knowing that Lenya is her "sort of household goddess" as far as singing influence goes, (also mentioning Marlene Dietrich) I'm quite grateful for this CD, though it is not quite flawless.Dennis Russell Davies conducts a magnificent, stirring orchestra.
The recording's sound pitch is rather uneven and overpowering at times in complementing Faithfull's voice, and the singers who represent the Family are sometimes grating and too loud in contrast. One has just to adjust the volume control, but this can become tiresome after a while. Incidentally, the four songs at the end are rather unnecessary, as most of them are featured on Faithfull's 20TH CENTURY BLUES CD with piano accompaniment--much more intimate and suitable for say, the "Alabama Song."If one appreciates THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS or Marianne Faithfull, one should definitely get this CD. Even though Lenya's recording will always be my absolute favorite, I find myself listening to this version more than I ever thought I would. Perhaps this is because Marianne Faithfull decided to pay tribute to an extraordinary work in the name of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya.
I think so!"
Prototype of "Tell me on a Sunday?"
Paul A. Gerard | Australia | 05/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I must admit I have not heard the incomparable Lotte Lenya sing this - but then she apparently never quite got round to recording the English version (it was written for her and she did perform it). In fact I had not even heard of this work before getting my copy (I didn't buy it on Amazon, for once!). I did buy it very much on Weill's name - certainly not that of Marianne Faithful, who I'd not heard of since she sung teeny pop back in the sixties.Another confession - I much prefer my Weill sung in English - to me his music matches the meaning of the words at least as much as the sound - and if I miss the meaning I am losing half the point of the music. Maybe if I knew German I would get both and a much deeper experience? But then much of Weill is actually written to be sung in English, and German speaking listeners prefer these works in translation (and, so I am told, often very poor translation) into German.Marianne Faithful's account does bring out what a natural vehicle this work was for Lotte Lenya - but for me at least it is very persuasive indeed in its own right. Without too obviously trying to sound like Lotte, Marianne has a great deal of the same smokey bluesy quality in her mature voice.The main point, however, is the work itself, an earthier (and very much better written) prototype of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Tell me on a Sunday". Its merits are really inexcapable, and could survive, I suspect, a much worse translation and certainly much less effective interpretation and still be very interesting.The extra Weill songs, two from the Threepenny Opera, that are added for the sake of the "value for money" brigade who can't bear a half empty CD, are if anything even better sung than the main work, although they lose some of their dramatic impact by being pulled out of context.Yes, it would be wonderful if Lenya had recorded this in English - and I may even hunt up her German version. But this recording is just superb - if you like Weill you really must get a copy."
A Great English Interpretation
Marilyn5000 | Belle Harbor, New York | 08/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Marianne Faithfull does an admirable job tackling Weill's Seven Deadly Sins. While it may be considered more highbrow to insist upon one's Weill sung in German, not being fluent in the language, I was grateful for the English translation. Ms. Faithfull clearly has a deep respect and understanding for Weill's work, and her weathered voice is very well suited for his more cynical songs. The sound quality of this version is also particularly good."