Die Singphoniker

Georg Kreisler

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The name of Georg Kreisler is not much known in English-speaking countries, but his death in 2011 occasioned considerable notice in his native Austria. Of Jewish background, Kreisler fled Vienna in 1938 for the U.S., where he served in the army fighting his former homeland. He wrote songs in English, one of which, Please, Shoot Your Wife, is recorded here. That song was rejected by American publishers, however, and Kreisler returned to Europe and eventually to Vienna. He has been compared to Tom Lehrer, and indeed several of his songs, notably Tauben vergiften im Park (Poisoning Pigeons in the Park) are close enough to Lehrer's to have inspired charges (and counter-charges) of plagiarism. Actually his range was greater than Lehrer's, and he was more prolific, even if he lacked the deadly satirical accuracy. On offer here from the German, a cappella group Die Singphoniker are arrangements of Kreisler songs for the group's trademark King's Singers-style harmony vocals. These are impressively done, and the group catches both the humor in a song like Das Mädchen mit den drei blauen Augen (The Girl with the Three Blue Eyes, track 3) and the considerable subtlety of Kreisler's musical language. Listeners had better speak or at least read German, though, for no translations are included, and the texts are not in general circulation. Oehms' engineering in a Bavarian Radio studio is as superb as would be expected.

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