Such was the demand for the hit songs from Kurt Weill's theater works that his publishers commissioned arrangements of the works for pseudo-jazz dance bands, starting in 1927 with tunes from the iconi

Such was the demand for the hit songs from Kurt Weill's theater works that his publishers commissioned arrangements of the works for pseudo-jazz dance bands, starting in 1927 with tunes from the iconic Brecht collaboration The Threepenny Opera and on to 1950 with numbers from the Broadway opera Lost in the Stars. Particularly with the early, edgy European works, these arrangements sacrifice the wonderfully pungent character of the original scoring in favor of a high-gloss sheen fit for pop entertainment (although the Threepenny "Blues Potpourri" is still pretty hip). With the later, more populist American material, slickness isn't as much of a concern. Regardless, Weill's melodies remain indelible in whatever guise, and there is perhaps no one better qualified to realize such a project than Viennese conductor/composer/chansonnier HK Gruber, who is hardly a rank nostalgist. Here, he conducts Berlin's super-smooth Palast Orchester with style, and Max Raabe is the suave vocal soloist on a handful of songs, in German and English. Even as such obvious oldies, these performances are goldies.—BB

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print