Search - Michael Rippon, Thomas Hampson, Kurt Weill :: Kurt Weill: Symphony No. 2; The Seven Deadly Sins; Songs

Kurt Weill: Symphony No. 2; The Seven Deadly Sins; Songs
Michael Rippon, Thomas Hampson, Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill: Symphony No. 2; The Seven Deadly Sins; Songs
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (22) - Disc #2

This 2-CD set is attractively designed and packaged in a space-saving brilliant box with accompanying three-language booklets. Includes many recordings new to CD and as well as recordings that have been transferred from D...  more »

     

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Synopsis

Album Description
This 2-CD set is attractively designed and packaged in a space-saving brilliant box with accompanying three-language booklets. Includes many recordings new to CD and as well as recordings that have been transferred from Double Forte. These titles have been digitally remastered to the highest standards at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios.

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CD Reviews

Weill's little-known instrumental works, performed to perfec
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 04/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I finally picked up Kurt Weill's famous Threepenny Opera (1988 recording with Ute Lemper & the RIAS Berlin) a couple of years ago as I started to seriously investigate 20th century German classical music. Weill's collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, who by now is widely considered the greatest playwright of the 20th century, was a smash hit in Berlin in 1928, and at least two Weill-Brecht songs became widely known in the U.S. -- "Mac the Knife" from "The Threepenny Opera," recorded by Frank Sinatra and Jimmie Dale Gilmore among dozens of others, and "Alabama Song" from "Mahagonny-Songspiel" (1927), which I and countless others first heard sung by the Doors. Weill was Jewish and a leftist, a member of the November Group (of radical artists) in the 1920s Weimar Republic, and so he fled Germany in 1933, staying in Paris briefly before settling in the U.S. where he had a successful career writing Broadway musicals before he died of a heart attack just after his 50th birthday in 1950.

Weill was trained as a classical composer, and produced a small body of instrumental work, mainly before his success with opera and musicals. The first disc on this 2-disc EMI Gemini collection is all instrumental Weill, performed to perfection by the Berlin Philharmonic led by Mariss Jansons (this is a reissue of the original 1998 disc). The "Symphony No. 2" (27'10 -- 1934) in four movements leads off, followed by the "Concerto for violin and wind orchestra" (26'07 -- 1924) from ten years earlier, played magnificently by Frank Peter Zimmerman, and finally comes the "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny Suite" (17'15 -- 1930), with several quite hummable tunes including "Alabama Song."

Weill wrote two symphonies, the first an early one-movement expressionist piece. He wrote the "Symphony No. 2" in Paris in 1934, and it was his last instrumental composition. It is a very strong work, conveying the Weimar mood with the Left facing off against the Right (sorry Glenn Beck, it was the RIGHT WING that took power in 1933!), using the four-movement symphonic form to clearly communicate with the working class public. The earlier violin concerto is a great showpiece for Zimmerman, and it uses an unusual wind orchestra with no strings. Also of its time, it combines a Second Vienna School influence with the newest neoclassical influence of Stravinsky. Based on these two works, it is clear that Weill could have had a successful career pursuing these classical forms, but he followed his success and moved toward songwriting for staged dramas. The "Mahagonny Suite" is great, from the expanded work of 1930, again played to the hilt by the Berlin Philharmonic. I have to think that this recording session brought out the best in all concerned, Berlin's premiere orchestra bringing to light rarely heard works from Weimar-era Berlin.

I actually came across this disc while searching for a performance of "Die Sieben Todsunden" (The Seven Deadly Sins), Weill's 1933 "sung ballet" with Brecht. But it is the first disc of instrumental works that is the real find for me. The second disc of vocal works is competently performed, but I don't find "Die Sieben Todsunden" to be very compelling -- the best parts, despite Elise Ross's fine soprano singing, are the orchestral writing, performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra led by Simon Rattle -- and the excerpts from "The Threepenny Opera," performed by the London Sinfonietta, are not contenders for best performance. There are no English translations of the "7 Deadly Sins" libretto, and when it's Bertolt Brecht you want the words! I tracked it down on the web, but was underwhelmed. It's a satire aimed at the petit bourgoisie, and the twist is that Anna only does wrong when she does *not* commit the sin. For instance, her "pride" consists in not wanting to work in a strip club, and her "anger" is righteous anger against the mistreatment of a fellow worker. So not Weill and Brecht's finest hour.

But the instrumental disc is fantastic, and well worth hearing, especially at the price! My five star rating is on the strength of that session."