Ute Lemper sings Kurt Weill

Two contrasting recitals by one unique singer reappear refreshed on DVD

Author: 
mscott rohan

Ute Lemper sings Kurt Weill

  • Marie Galante, J'attends un navire (Josiah, Marie)
  • Marie Galante, Train du ciel (chorus)
  • Marie Galante, Le Grand Lustucru (Maria)
  • One Touch of Venus, I'm a stranger here myself (Venus)
  • Happy End, Bilbao Song (Bill)
  • (Das) Berliner Requiem, Die rote Rosa
  • Complainte de la Seine
  • (Der) Dreigroschenoper, '(The) Threepenny Opera', Moritat von Mackie Messer (Eng: Ballad of Mack the Knife)
  • (Der) Dreigroschenoper, '(The) Threepenny Opera', Barbara-Song (Polly)
  • Happy End, Surabaya-Johnny (Lilian)
  • Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, 'Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny', Alabama Song (Jenny, girls)
  • Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, 'Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny', ~, Denn wie man sich bettet, so liegt man (Jim, full
  • Youkali
  • Je ne t'aime pas
  • Lady in the Dark, Tchaikovsky (Ringmaster)
  • Lady in the Dark, The Saga of Jenny (Liza)
  • Lady in the Dark, My ship
  • Knickerbocker Holiday, September Song (Stuyvesant)
  • Lost in the Stars, Trouble Man (Irina)
  • (The) Firebrand of Florence, Sing Me Not a Ballad (Duchess, courtiers)
  • Prospero's Books, Miranda
  • (A) Letter and a Riddle
  • (L') Orgie Parisienne
  • (6) Songs

As she demonstrated in London’s Chicago cast, Ute Lemper is a consummate musical star with an engaging line in gamey sensuality à la Marlene Dietrich; but her full, sour-sweet voice and mordant expressiveness lend themselves to deeper things.

The Weill recital, filmed at the magnificently decrepit Les Bouffes du Nord in Paris, covers similar ground to her Decca CDs, spanning the composer’s career from Brecht and Berlin to his disastrous Paris sojourn and final apotheosis in the America he had so often traduced. It’s here, though, in his Broadway hits – especially One Touch of Venus – that she is most successful.

Despite the peeling-plaster ambience, this is a sophisticated little staging, keenly directed and lit; and for all the rolled r’s and vibrant bitterness she brings to the Brecht songs, they seem just too slick and smooth, far removed from Lotte Lenya’s agitprop-laden rasp. This might be fair enough, recalling the Brecht who had his ‘proletarian’ clothes expensively tailored, but ‘Moritat von Mackie Messer’ especially is stylised to the point of emasculation.

The Michael Nyman recital is filmed with added video imagery – by Volker Schlöndorff, no less. The Mozartian Letter and a Riddle is unexciting, but Nyman’s free-wheeling blend of minimalism, classical and jazz idiom suits Rimbaud’s off-the-wall imagery in L’Orgie Parisienne, as does Lemper’s cheerfully louche delivery (despite variable French). By contrast, she delivers his grim settings of Celan’s Holocaust poems with the searing, gritty power that the Brecht songs lacked. She makes it amply clear she’s to be taken seriously – but without forgetting her fun value, either.

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019