NOT THE BEST
MOVIE MAVEN | New York, NY USA | 03/24/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Certainly, Julia Migenes has one of the most beautiful voices of the women who have recorded Brecht and Weill's ballet/cantata/suite of songs/theatrical-musical piece....or, as Weill called it "ballet chante" (a ballet with singing). But I wonder if "beauty" is what is needed in this, one of my favorite pieces of music. I have four different recordings and, although I would never say that this one is badly done, it is my least favorite simply because Migenes sings so prettily and so carefully and operatically. The Lotte Lenya recording sets the standard. No one comes close to her biting, rough-textured voice and dramatic abilities....but Ute Lemper comes close, Gisela May comes closer and Marianne Faithfull comes closest. The Faithfull performance has the added benefit of being done in a fine English translation. The London Symphony Orchestra, under Michael Tilson Thomas, is the true star of this CD. The orchestra's work is really wonderful, full and rich. Tilson Thomas has gone for a grand performance and it works up to a point. Weill wrote an intimate piece of music for orchestra and a total of 5 singers: The soprano and a male quartet. About twenty years ago, there were rumors that George Balanchine was going to revive "The Seven Deadly Sins" for his New York City Ballet and the soprano was to be none other than Bette Midler who has performed some other Weill material excellently. But it was not to be. The performances were cancelled because of a musicians' strike and the revival never came about. If you want to sample this exciting music, try the Lenya recording to hear the original "Anna" and if you'd rather hear it in English, the Marianne Faithfull performance is very, very fine."
Julia Migenes and Kurt Weill equals divinity!
Sean | LOOK | 07/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is surely one of Brecht and Weill's most (unfortunately) neglected masterpieces, and definately one of their most unorthodox pieces. Julia Migenes, of course, sings it all divinely, and her dramatic flair and tension is all there, too. Her acting genuinely comes through... it's all there... IN THE VOICE. She doesn't just sing it 'prettily' (i.e., 'blandly') like some pretentious Brechtians would accuse. I like to think of myself as a Brechtian, and generally do prefer the Brecht-Weill pieces to be done by a great actor with a mediocre singing voice. But I also don't mind it when that great actor pays equal (and I mean EQUAL) attention to the music. Brechtian 'scholars' pointing fingers at Migenes, saying that she would make a pretentious operatic sound while singing this piece, would do better to point their fingers elsewhere. Migenes was a sublime interpreter of Weill's music, and I wish that she had performed it more frequently in her prime. The male quartet that makes up the Annas' family (two tenors-brothers, baritone-dad, bass-mom), are all of very good voice (among them vetrans Alan Opie and Robert Tear).
Michael Tilson Thomas leading the London Symphony Orchestra through this piece and EINE KLEINE DREIGOSCHENMUSIK is perfect from beginning to end (the only other performance that I have heard of the THREEPENNY suite that is better is available on the DG Weill box set).
For a long while, this was the only recording of THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS that I knew, and I didn't see how it could possibly get any better. I now own Marianne Faithfull's FABULOUS rendition (recorded in W.H. Auden's top-notch English translation), as well as the always-fabulous Lenya's recording. I love both of them (particularly Faithfull's), but I still find myself pulling out this Migenes rendition and listening to it as I lie bed in the dark: the bittersweet ending of the piece is a heart-stopping, brilliant moment, and I just can't move in the first few moments of silence following the final chord. I really don't think that I could live without this album.
Julia Migenes and THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS.
Buy this recording RIGHT NOW!"