Kurt Masur

Kurt Weill: Die sieben Todsünden; Berg: Lulu Suite

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Kurt Weill's Die sieben Todsünden and Alban Berg's Lulu Suite seem at first glance to be odd companions. The two composers appear to have little in common, aside from sharing the same German nationality and language. Yet there were many circumstances, coincidences, and parallel interests between them (described in detail in the liner notes) to warrant programming these works together. While the historical background is important in understanding why these stylistically opposed works were paired, listeners may prefer one over the other. Weill's "ballet with song" is tonal and similar in coloration to other theater works he wrote in collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, and perhaps most closely resembles Mahagonny. The popular style of his songs is instantly accessible, though the unusual libretto is less easily comprehended. Berg's Lulu, as represented by these five extracted pieces, is predominantly twelve-tone and expressionist, and the music's abstract qualities are emphasized in this concert arrangement. Even so, the suite is more approachable and lyrical than might be expected, and it is worth reflective listening. Angelina Réaux adjusts her vocal style according to the different demands of these works, and Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic provide solid accompaniment and satisfying orchestral playing on their own in this live recording.

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