A Pleasant Surprise and a New Discovery
AlPath | Washington, DC USA | 06/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was in the mood for a modern violin concerto recording, and glowing critical reviews of this set prompted me to purchase it. Scanning straight over to the concerto, and giving it a few minutes listening, I was almost immediately put off. Avant-garde it definitely sounded to these ears, whose taste in modern concertos leans more towards Barber or even Glass (very straightforward works, with immediately accessible lyricism). Weill's concerto, on the other hand, sounded simply wild and aimless, with no particular "big tune" or melody to it. Almost disgusted, I shelved the discs for a few days.On a whim, though, I came back to it and listened to the rest from the beginning... tremendous! The Threepenny Suite can simply be described as "fun," with an incisiveness and "swing" not to be found elsewhere. My two other favorites, The Little Mahagonny and Happy End, are characterfully, sometimes campily, but always fascinatingly sung. The two female singers, especially, easily differentiated, have added a smooth, sultry quality to their characterizations. And the "megaphone" effect at the end of Little Mahagonny is thrilling, even a little frightening.The excellence continues throughout the rest of the set. While I was a little disappointed with the concerto (the reason I purchased this in the first place), everything else on this set more than made up for that. Not only are they wonderful performances, atmospherically recorded, these recordings also introduced me to the fascinating world of Kurt Weill... and I am now a fan !"
For the Weill Fan Who Wants More of His Music
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 08/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just finished reviewing a new CD from Naxos that contains Weill's rarely heard two symphonies plus a suite fashioned from the music he wrote for a Broadway show (after he'd emigrated to the US in the wake of the Nazi horror) and it reminded me of this set that I have owned for twenty-five years in its LP form. On a whim I bought this mid-price 2CD version and was thrilled to reacquaint myself with the fascinating music contained herein. This is the Weill we know and love from 'Dreigroschenoper' and 'Mahagonny.' The other pieces included here, even including the violin concerto which was not so pleasing to the previous reviewer, are quintessential Weill. The Violin Concerto (interestingly for violin and wind instruments), frankly, is the one I like best, but I think all these performances could hardly be bettered. David Atherton leads a very alert bunch of musicians in the London Sinfonietta and they clearly really enjoy playing this music. And the recorded sound, from the early 1980s if I'm not mistaken, is clear as a bell and sounds absolutely modern.
This truly is not to be missed. It has been treasured in its earlier format by Weill lovers for a quarter century and will continue to be held in special regard by those in the know.
A mesmerizing journey to a recent past!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 03/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The expressionism, the bitter and epic Brecht`s theatre, the ferociously satiric designs of Groz , the sarcastic linearity of the first stage of Hindemith, the cabaret and even the cultural ambiance in which the composer finds feed for his own growing up. The popular song, the military march, the languid songs, the symphonic speech, the return of the melodramatic are some of the elements that conform the unmistaken amalgam musical of Kurt Weill just to show the moral alienation of the contemporary civilisation had arrived, it's to say the bourgeois society.
Because the artistic fermentation was running parallel to that moral decomposition, the voices of Robert Wiene (The cabinet of Dr. caligari, The hands of Orlac), Fritz Lang (Metropolis, Mabusse and The testament of Dr. Mabusse) , Murnau (Nosferatu and the Last man) or Pabst (Pandora' s box) seemed to preannounce dark clouds in the near horizon. Perhaps Germany in the twenties lived an universe hard to describe and even to explain; the recent memories of a lost War, the visible decrepitude and total lack of political leadership, led to most artists to seek refugee in those culverts of the soul, where sinister spectres hovered the spirits and permeated the soul of whole nation.
Weill knew to express musically what Brecht in his texts; the bitterness, hopeless and ethic depression in what he was sunk are faithfully and superbly portrayed by david Atherton and his ensemble "The London Sinfonietta."
Released in 1976 and luckily remastered for the generations to come, this album is simply one of the major artistic achievements of the middle seventies and one of the most powerful and idiomatic musical feats of the last century.
Don't doubt for a second to acquire this priceless musical document.