Lenya

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Most fans of American music gratefully (if shamefully) acknowledge that it takes a German company to present our country's roots -- during the 20th century at least -- with the respect and scholarship it deserves. Multiple box sets of the work of everyone from Louis Jourdan to Johnny Cash to Waylon Jennings to Louis Prima and Keely Smith to Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant to Lefty Frizell to Bobby Bare to Little Richard to Hawkshaw Hawkins to Roy Orbison and Chuck Berry all point to the fact that Bear Family Recordings knows how to get the job done far better than we do. But even here they can outdo themselves. The case in point is this massive box set of the work of the ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Most fans of American music gratefully (if shamefully) acknowledge that it takes a German company to present our country's roots -- during the 20th century at least -- with the respect and scholarship it deserves. Multiple box sets of the work of everyone from Louis Jourdan to Johnny Cash to Waylon Jennings to Louis Prima and Keely Smith to Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant to Lefty Frizell to Bobby Bare to Little Richard to Hawkshaw Hawkins to Roy Orbison and Chuck Berry all point to the fact that Bear Family Recordings knows how to get the job done far better than we do. But even here they can outdo themselves. The case in point is this massive box set of the work of the greatest German cabaret singer in history, Lotte Lenya, wife of Kurt Weill and still, over 20 years after her death, the greatest interpreter and proponent of his music. This handsome set features 11 CDs, a picture disc mini-LP of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and a hardbound 250-page bilingual book (German and English) with exhaustive notes and annotations for virtually everything she recorded for Phillips and Columbia. One listen to any of the material here convinces even the most ardent cynic and dubious prophet of modern interpretations that Lenya's performances outstrip those of anyone who came after her, even those she sanctioned, like diva Teresa Stratas, much less the jive pop versions of the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill songs put forth in mealy-mouthed trendy ad agency hype technique by Ute Lemper. Indeed, only Marianne Faithfull on her 20th Century Blues album came close, but it was only as a moth to a flame of the original. The Bear Family set begins in 1929 with Lenya doing her first recordings of the Brecht-Weill material, with the debut performances (on record) of "Surabaya Johnny" and "Bilbao Song," the only two songs recorded from the breakthrough Beggar's Opera. Nonetheless, after nearly 15 years on a stage, Lenya's performance as Pirate Jenny, the whore from Turnbridge, took her over the top. From here the first disc fills out the Weill and Brecht-Weill material from the '30s, acquainting the listener with the voice that made Lenya the voice in the German opera even though she wasn't an opera singer. Weill himself made the comment, "She can't even read music but people turn out to hear her sing like they do Caruso." Disc two moves on to the '50s, even though Lenya made some recordings for the U.S. war effort during the '40s. The reason is that this is the period in which Lenya rebuilt her career after the death of Weill in 1950. The recording of Weill's songs in 1955 launched on record -- Lenya had been performing on stage from 1952 on -- the singer's return. The disc features 12 of Weill's most famous songs and a recording of The Seven Deadly Sins, all in their definitive recorded versions because of the depth of their grief and the determination to keep the work alive. These are also authoritative versions because of the power of their enunciation and the depth of understanding in terms of politics, class, and cultural issues that Lenya meditatively brought to Weill's work after his death. When the collection reaches discs three and four, a complete recording of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny recorded in the revival performance in America in 1957, Lenya has reached the absolute zenith of her power as an interpretive singer. The entire case is phenomenal, but Lenya is otherworldly in the title role (Diana Ross was not fit to even contemplate this role let alone play it in the 1970s while Lenya was still alive). The collection continues with different sessions -- including the legendary "September Song" recordings from 1957 -- of Brecht-Weill material on CDs five through seven, concluding on disc seven with Lenya's breathtaking numbers from the theater production of Cabaret in 1966. The box moves into wonderful territory with Lenya's other voice work on the discs eight and nine, with eight being an entire spoken work, "Introduction to German Poetry," and nine divided between the stories of Franz Kafka and Brecht songs (from 1959 and 1962, respectively), as well as three recordings from 1943 for the U.S. Office of War Information. Already enough for a lifetime, the Bear Family set saves some of the best material for last. Disc ten, along with a Herkulessaal der Residenz session from Munich in 1960 (a return to Germany after 25 years in the States), also includes Lenya's near mythic Carnegie Hall performance from1965 in its entirety, which has never before been issued. The drama and passion in her limited range is unnerving, ice melting, and completely entrancing in its brilliance and passion. Lenya has the audience in front of her and on record -- eating out of the palm of her hand like a kind dominatrix administering the sweetest kinds of punishment before offering a reward for enduring such a tough, bloody kiss. Finally, on disc 11 are the now famous Turk Murphy sessions with Louis Armstrong, which were never released until now, and feature two takes each of "Mack the Knife" and "Moritat." They are breathtaking in their scope and open the meaning of each tune up to include an entirely new musical universe, as if Weill had been composing for this pairing all along. Rounding out the disc is a final performance of "Mother Courage," from 1965, a long interview and singing appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in 1975, and three unreleased pieces from The Broadway World of Kurt Weill, unreleased until 1998. In sum, this overview of a 60-year career and in-depth look at how pertinent the music of Brecht and Weill were to the aesthetic development of the 20th century is indispensable. Lenya was, if not a diva, then something bigger because in her voice she embodied the voices of every woman who dared fantasize and every man who dared look into the mirror with horror and disgust. She took upon herself to speak the hidden desire reflected in the music and lyrics by Weill and Brecht and carry it to the middle, upper, and lower classes with equal vigor and venom and sultry, sensual repose. There is no more important document than this in either Weill's or Brecht's massive catalog. In fact, because of Lenya and her searing recordings, no more ever need to be done as long as these survive. The Bear Family set has excellent sound with a meticulous sense of detail given to warmth and accuracy of production, and a historical overview that cannot be broached even by scholars. Truly this is one of the most magnificent projects they have ever undertaken, and listeners all benefit by such a sublime achievement.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/11/1998
  • Label: Bear Family
  • UPC: 790051601928
  • Catalog Number: 16019

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Surabaya-Jonny (3:04)
  2. 2 Bilbao-Song (3:04)
  3. 3 Alabama-Song (2:58)
  4. 4 Denn Wie Man Sich Bettet (2:55)
  5. 5 Alabama-Song (2:48)
  6. 6 Denn Wie Man Sich Bettet (3:24)
  7. 7 Ouvertüre/Moritat/Ballade Vom Angenehmen Leben (3:21)
  8. 8 Liebeslied/Kanonensong (3:16)
  9. 9 Die Seeräuberjenny (3:10)
  10. 10 Ertes Dreigroschen-Finale (3:06)
  11. 11 Barbarasong/Eiferuchtsduett (3:21)
  12. 12 Absheid/Zweites Dreigroschen-Finale (3:28)
  13. 13 Zuhälter-Ballade/Lied Von Der Unzalanglichkelt Menschlichen Strebens (3:11)
  14. 14 Moritat/Schlusschoral (3:22)
  15. 15 Querschnitt 1. Teil Aufsteig und Fall Der Stadt Mahagonny (4:21)
  16. 16 Querschnitt 1. Teil Aufsteig und Fall Der Stadt Mahagonny (4:25)
  17. 17 Surabaya-Jonny (3:07)
  18. 18 Denn Wie Man Sich Bettet (3:06)
  19. 19 Compliante de la Seine (3:28)
  20. 20 J'Attends un Navire (3:04)
  21. 21 Lover Man (2:50)
  22. 22 Lost in the Stars (3:04)
  23. 23 And So the Last Thing, Too(1937 Interview) (4:10)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Moritat (3:04)
  2. 2 Barbara-Song (4:23)
  3. 3 Seeräuberjenny (4:02)
  4. 4 Havanna-Lied (1:57)
  5. 5 Alabama-Song (4:08)
  6. 6 Denn Wie Man Sich Bettet (3:56)
  7. 7 Bilbao-Song (4:35)
  8. 8 Surabaya-Jonny (4:25)
  9. 9 Was Die Herren Matrosen Sagen(Matrosen-Tango) (4:34)
  10. 10 Ballade Vom Ertrunkenen Mädchen (3:04)
  11. 11 Ich Bin Eine Arme Verwandte (2:54)
  12. 12 Cäsar-Ballade (2:53)
  13. 13 Prolog (3:48)
  14. 14 Faulheit (4:28)
  15. 15 Stolz (4:44)
  16. 16 Zorn (4:15)
  17. 17 Völlerei (3:09)
  18. 18 Unzucht (5:30)
  19. 19 Habsucht (3:14)
  20. 20 Neid (4:41)
  21. 21 Epilog (1:42)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Akt (Szene 1) (7:27)
  2. 2 Akt (Szene 2) (4:09)
  3. 3 Akt (Szene 3) (4:21)
  4. 4 Akt (Szene 4) (2:03)
  5. 5 Akt (Szene 5) (5:06)
  6. 6 Akt (Szene 6) (1:53)
  7. 7 Akt (Szene 7) (4:53)
  8. 8 Akt (Szene 8) (6:26)
  9. 9 Akt (Szene 9) (6:37)
  10. 10 Akt (Szene 10) (2:19)
  11. 11 Akt (Szene 11) (10:42)
  12. 12 Akt (Szene 12) (4:39)
  13. 13 Akt (Szene 13) (5:03)
Disc 4
  1. 1 Akt (Szene 14) (11:52)
  2. 2 Akt (Szene 15a) (6:46)
  3. 3 Akt (Szene 15b) (13:26)
  4. 4 Akt (Szene 16) (4:09)
  5. 5 Akt (Szene 17) (10:28)
  6. 6 Akt (Szene 18) (4:01)
  7. 7 Akt (Szenec 19) (6:49)
  8. 8 Akt (Szene Finale) (10:26)
Disc 5
  1. 1 September Song (3:48)
  2. 2 It Never Was You (2:29)
  3. 3 The Saga of Jenny (4:03)
  4. 4 Foolish Heart (3:14)
  5. 5 Speak Low (2:53)
  6. 6 Sing Me Not a Ballad (4:19)
  7. 7 Song of Ruth (2:11)
  8. 8 Lonely House (3:31)
  9. 9 A Boy Like You (2:30)
  10. 10 Green-Up Time (2:36)
  11. 11 Trouble Man (3:45)
  12. 12 Stay Well (3:05)
  13. 13 Lost in the Stars (4:02)
  14. 14 Song of Ruth (2:37)
  15. 15 Pirate Jenny (4:05)
  16. 16 Solomon-Song (2:39)
  17. 17 Tango-Ballad (4:37)
  18. 18 Interview (9:45)
  19. 19 Mon Ami, My Friend (2:06)
  20. 20 Young Blood (2:55)
  21. 21 Welcome Home (2:22)
  22. 22 Ouvetüre (2:00)
Disc 6
  1. 1 Moritat (3:10)
  2. 2 Morgenchorale des Peachum (1:13)
  3. 3 Anstatt-Dass-Song (1:50)
  4. 4 Hochzeitslied Für Ärmere Leute (1:25)
  5. 5 Kanonensong (2:19)
  6. 6 Liebeslied (1:55)
  7. 7 Barbara-Song (4:44)
  8. 8 Erstes Dreigroschen-Finale (4:00)
  9. 9 Der Pferdestall (0:56)
  10. 10 Abschiedslied Der Polly (1:51)
  11. 11 Zwischenlied (0:28)
  12. 12 Ballade Von Der Sexullen Hörigkeit (3:42)
  13. 13 Die Seeräuberjenny (4:19)
  14. 14 Zuhälter-Ballade (4:37)
  15. 15 Ballade Vom Angenehmen Leben (2:31)
  16. 16 Eifersuchtduett (2:30)
  17. 17 Arie Der Lucy (2:06)
  18. 18 Zweites Dreigroschen-Finale (4:00)
  19. 19 Lied Von Der Unzulänglichkeit Menschlichen Strebens (2:14)
  20. 20 Salomon Song (3:36)
  21. 21 Ruf Aus Der Gruft (0:53)
  22. 22 Ballade in Derv Macheath Jedermann Abbitte Leistet (4:05)
  23. 23 Der Reitende Bote (5:01)
  24. 24 Drittes Dreigroschen-Finale (1:06)
  25. 25 Schlusstrophen Der Moritat (1:23)
Disc 7
  1. 1 Introduktion (Hosiannah) (2:30)
  2. 2 Bilbao-Song (4:32)
  3. 3 Der Kleine Leutnant des Lieben Gottes (4:36)
  4. 4 Geht Hinein in Die Schlacht (Heilsarme-Lied1) (0:24)
  5. 5 Was Die Herren Matrosen Sagen (Matrosen-Tango) (6:53)
  6. 6 Bruder, Gib Dir Einen Stoss(Heilsarmee-Lied 2) (0:26)
  7. 7 Das Lied Vom Brannteinhändler (4:18)
  8. 8 Der Song Von Mandely (2:32)
  9. 9 Fürchte Dich Nicht (Heilsarmee-Lied 3) (1:25)
  10. 10 Die Ballade Von Der Höllen-Lili (4:19)
  11. 11 Der Klein Leutnant des Lieben Gottes (1:04)
  12. 12 So What? (0:56)
  13. 13 It Couldn't Please Me More (2:23)
  14. 14 Married (2:30)
  15. 15 What Would You Do (3:23)
  16. 16 Finale - Company (3:19)
  17. 17 Unter Der Linde (2:43)
  18. 18 Menschlich Elende (3:25)
  19. 19 Das Rosenband (3:38)
Disc 8
  1. 1 Der Tod und das Mädchen (1:16)
  2. 2 Abendlied (1:15)
  3. 3 Der Bauer (0:37)
  4. 4 Lebenspflichten (0:34)
  5. 5 Gesang Der Geister Über Den Wassern (1:47)
  6. 6 Froh Empfind Ich Mich (0:54)
  7. 7 Gefunden (1:28)
  8. 8 Mein Unvergesslich Mädchen (1:02)
  9. 9 Der Handschuh (1:28)
  10. 10 Hyperions Schickalslied (0:36)
  11. 11 Mondnacht (0:44)
  12. 12 Das Schloss Boncourt (2:35)
  13. 13 Kommen und Scheiden (1:32)
  14. 14 Auf Geheimem Waldespfade (0:37)
  15. 15 Der Weiher (1:35)
  16. 16 Das Verlassene Mäfdlein (0:26)
  17. 17 Der Wirtin Töchterlein (0:34)
  18. 18 Die Mädchen (0:44)
  19. 19 Im Wunderschönen Monat Mai (0:41)
  20. 20 Meine Lieder (1:02)
  21. 21 Nächtlich Am Busento (0:24)
  22. 22 Kehr Ein Bei Mir (0:19)
  23. 23 Altassyrisch (0:29)
  24. 24 Die Musik Kommt (1:33)
  25. 25 Wer Weiss Wo (0:38)
  26. 26 Der Römische Brunnen (0:56)
  27. 27 Vereinsamt (1:49)
  28. 28 Der Werwolf (1:19)
  29. 29 Der Arbeitsmann (0:27)
  30. 30 Die Beiden (1:20)
  31. 31 Du (1:19)
  32. 32 Spanische Tänzerin (1:01)
  33. 33 Ich Liebe Frauen (0:47)
  34. 34 An Der Leser (1:02)
  35. 35 Die Entwicklung Der Menschheit (1:06)
  36. 36 Der Vater (0:46)
  37. 37 Erinnerung an Die Marie a (1:38)
  38. 38 Von Der Freundlichkeit Der Welt (1:28)
  39. 39 Kinderkreuzzug (0:58)
Disc 9
  1. 1 A Hunger Artist (23:55)
  2. 2 An Imperial Message (Eine Kaiserliche Botschaff) (2:49)
  3. 3 A Fratricide (Ein Brudermord) (6:00)
  4. 4 The Care of a Family Man (Die Sorge des Hausvaters) (3:46)
  5. 5 Up in the Gallery (Auf Der Galerie) (3:02)
  6. 6 A Dream (Ein Traum) (5:24)
  7. 7 The Bucket Rider (Der Kübelreiter) (7:09)
  8. 8 What I Enjoy (Vergnügungen) (0:39)
  9. 9 Inscription on a China Lion (Auf Einen Chinesischen Teewurzellöwen) (0:15)
  10. 10 The Solomon Song (3:38)
  11. 11 Changing Wheels (Der Radweschel) (0:19)
  12. 12 Burning Books (Die Bücherverbrennung) (0:42)
  13. 13 Written on the Wall (Auf Der Mauer Stand Mit Kreide) (0:10)
  14. 14 Lied Der Courage (3:03)
  15. 15 Song of a German Mother (2:25)
  16. 16 The Dog (Der Hund) (0:11)
  17. 17 To the Next Generation (An Die Nachgeborenen) (3:53)
  18. 18 Bad Times for Poetry (Schechte Zeiten Für Lyrtik) (0:54)
  19. 19 Und Was Bekam des Soldaten Weib (3:41)
  20. 20 Wie Lange Noch (3:19)
  21. 21 Lied Einer Deutschen Mutter (2:12)
Disc 10
  1. 1 Moritat Von Mackie Messer (2:48)
  2. 2 Havanna-Lied (1:56)
  3. 3 Ballade Vom Ertrunkenen Mädchen (2:48)
  4. 4 Matrosen-Tango (3:58)
  5. 5 Zu Potsdam Unter Den Eichen (2:18)
  6. 6 Seeräuberjenny (3:54)
  7. 7 Bilbao-Song (4:44)
  8. 8 Carnegie Hall Introduction (1:37)
  9. 9 Alabama-Song (2:51)
  10. 10 Havanna-Lied (1:38)
  11. 11 Ballade Vom Ertrunkenen Mädchen (2:59)
  12. 12 Zu Potsdam Unter Den Eichen (2:30)
  13. 13 Speak Low (2:17)
  14. 14 Foolish Heart (3:14)
  15. 15 Bilbao-Song (5:22)
  16. 16 Surabaya-Jonny (4:42)
  17. 17 Love Song (4:03)
  18. 18 Susan's Dream (4:57)
  19. 19 Was Die Matrosen Sagen (Matrosen-Tango) (4:28)
  20. 20 Der Son Von Mandely (2:38)
  21. 21 Das Lied Von Der Harten Nuss (1:27)
  22. 22 Lilli of Hell (2:32)
  23. 23 September Song (1:43)
  24. 24 Barbara Song (6:25)
Disc 11
  1. 1 Moritat (3:00)
  2. 2 Moritat (2:54)
  3. 3 Mack the Knife - Louis Armstrong (9:06)
  4. 4 Mack the Knife - Louis Armstrong (3:11)
  5. 5 Lied Der Courage I (1:44)
  6. 6 Das Lied Vom Weib und Dem Soldaten (4:37)
  7. 7 Lied Von Der Grossen Kapitulation (4:26)
  8. 8 Lied Der Courage II (1:49)
  9. 9 Lied Der Courage III (1:07)
  10. 10 Eia Popeia, Was Raschelt Im Stroh (1:43)
  11. 11 Lier Der Courage IV (2:07)
  12. 12 The Dick Cavett Show (0:49)
  13. 13 Start (1:44)
  14. 14 American Films (2:10)
  15. 15 The Opening Night of the Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (3:50)
  16. 16 I'm a Stranger Here Myself (3:58)
  17. 17 Anita Berber (2:09)
  18. 18 The Great Inflation (2:54)
  19. 19 Thoughts on 'Oh, Calcutta (0:56)
  20. 20 Berlin Visit 1955 (1:47)
  21. 21 Introduction to Bilbao-Song (1:16)
  22. 22 The Bilbao Song (4:44)
  23. 23 The Broadway World of Kurt Weill, Introduction (0:35)
  24. 24 How Can You Tell Am American (1:14)
  25. 25 September Song (1:50)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Lotte Lenya Primary Artist, Vocals, Performing Ensemble, Recitation
Marc Blitzstein Piano, Vocals, Narrator
Kurt Weill Piano
Turk Murphy Vocals
Edmond Hall Clarinet
Bernie Leighton Piano
Rudi Bohn Conductor
John Cacavas Conductor
Dick Cavett Vocals
Shirley Booth Narrator
Joel Grey Vocals
Trummy Young Trombone
Gershon Kingsley Conductor
Louis Armstrong Leader, Vocals
Dane Clark Vocals
Pete Clute Piano
Arnold Eidus Violin
Paul Gershman Violin
Harry Glickman Violin
Bernard Herrmann Conductor
Milt Hinton Bass
Fred Klein French Horn
Billy Kyle Piano
Dick Lammi Banjo
Maurice Levine Leader
Homer Mensch Bass
Sam Musiker Clarinet
George Ockner Violin
Leonard Posner Violin
Milton Rosenstock Musical Direction
Margaret Ross Harp
Charles Russo Clarinet, Saxophone
Tosha Samaroff Violin
Julius Schachter Violin
Arvell Shaw Bass
Harry Zaratzian Viola
Harold Bennett Flute
Irving Horowitz Oboe, Saxophone
Joe Singer Horn
Charlie Butterfield Trumpet
Thomas Parshley Flute, Saxophone
Jack Saunders Drums
Melvin "Red" Solomon Trumpet
Bert Convy Track Performer
Frank Saracco Trombone
Harold Hastings Conductor
David Burk Violin
Harold Furmansky Viola
Jack Gilford Track Performer
Jill Haworth Vocals
Samuel Matlowsky Piano, Conductor, Leader
Mike Spivakovsky Violin
Theo Mackeben Conductor, Clavier
Lou Garisto Piano
George Voskovec Vocals
Mary Ehara Vocals
Steve Schultz Trumpet
Company Track Performer
Technical Credits
Marc Blitzstein Composer
Kurt Weill Composer
Bertolt Brecht Composer
Teresa Stratas Essay
George Avakian Producer, Interviewer, Essay
Goddard Lieberson Producer
Alan Rich Essay
Adam Skeaping Mastering
Ed Townsend Producer
Harold Prince Essay
Richard Weize Reissue Producer, Tape Research
Sylke Holtrop Artwork
Jurgen Crasser Mastering
Holger Von Bargen Art Direction
Günter Pauler Mastering
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