Excellent Version of Weill's Stage Music.
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 10/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`The Seven Deadly Sins' or `Die Sieben Todsunden' is probably Kurt Weill's second most often recorded collection of songs, after the songs of `The Threepenny Opera'. I have already done a review of Ute Lemper's treatment of this work of dramatic music. Now, I look at a version sung by Gisela May backed by the Rundfunk-Sinfonie Orchester of Leipzig and a version done by Teresa Stratas, backed by the Orchestre de L'Opera Nationale De Lyon, directed by the highly regarded conductor, Kent Nagano.
As far as the performances of the title piece on these two albums, the one done by Faulein May is clearly superior. It is almost as good, that is, it is almost indistinguishable from the excellent version given to us by Ms. Lemper who is arguably the finest modern interpreter of Weill's songs. On the other hand, Fraulein Stratas' version is much weaker, primarily because I am certain that it was recorded during a stage performance of the piece rather than in a studio. The sound is a lot weaker in places and there is a distinct echo of inferior acoustics on both the voice and Nagano's orchestra. This may be forgiven if Ms. Stratas' interpretation of Bertold Brecht's lyrics was up to the performances by Lemper and May, but it isn't. All three performances are in German.
Putting the centerpiece performance to the side, the Gisela May recording is also preferable to Stratas / Nagano in that May gives us 70 minutes of Weill's vocal works, while Nagano pads the remainder of the 64 minute disk with a performance of Weill's Symphony No. 2. And, while I am a great fan of Weill's vocal music, his instrumental music doesn't do much for me. They all sound like overtures to his theatre music.
On Ms. May's disk is two songs from `Berliner Requiem', four well-known songs from `Happy End', two well-known excerpts from `Mahagonny', and three popular songs from `The Threepenny Opera', including `Pirate Jenny', but not `Mack the Knife'. All these songs are in German.
Ms. May's recording is recommended, but somewhat redundant if you already own all of Ms. Lemper's performances of Kurt Weill's songs. Ms. Stratas' disk offers nothing you will not get from May or Lemper.