Various Artists

Bertolt Brecht: Hommage

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Though no original cast recording was made of the first production of composer Kurt Weill and lyricist Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera in Germany in 1928, four members of the original cast -- Lotte Lenya, Kurt Gerron, Erich Ponto, and Erika Helmke -- joined by Willy Trenk-Trebitsch from the original Prague cast and the Lewis Ruth Band conducted by Theo Mackeben (who had provided the instrumental accompaniment to the first production) came together in a German recording studio on December 7, 1930, and cut 13 selections from the score, which were released initially as a four-disc 78 rpm set. The recording is long since out of copyright in Europe, which has led to frequent reissues by various record labels. (Among these are The Threepenny Opera/Berlin 1930 on Teldec and The Collector's The Threepenny Opera on VAI.) Since the 13 tracks run only about 28 minutes, the reissues add bonus material of various sorts. This French version, billed as an "hommage" to Brecht, places the material at the end, tracks 16-28, following a grab bag of other Brecht material, much of it sung in French. Among the tracks are a lengthy suite of material from another Weill-Brecht show, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (including the famous "Alabama Song") performed by Lenya and others; two numbers from The Threepenny Opera performed with relish by Brecht himself; period recordings by French singers Florelle and Marianne Oswald; and a number of live recordings from 1967 by Catherine Sauvage. The incidental songs are entertaining, but the real draw here is the material from The Threepenny Opera. The performers have a strong sense of the spirit and meaning of the show, and Brecht's spoken introductions give an idea of the production as a whole. These recordings, either on this CD or another, have considerable historical importance, as well as presenting an impressive early interpretation of the score of The Threepenny Opera in the original German. On this particular album, they have been cleaned up and sound surprisingly good for their age.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), opera
1 3:23 Amazon
2 2:53 Amazon
3 3:14 Amazon
4 2:55 Amazon
Happy End, musical play
5 2:08 Amazon
Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder, incidental music
6 3:14 Amazon
Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), opera
7 3:17 Amazon
Happy End, musical play
8 4:03 Amazon
Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), opera
9 3:49 Amazon
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny), opera
10 8:47 Amazon
11 3:05 Amazon
12 2:59 Amazon
Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti
13 1:20 Amazon
14 1:37 Amazon
15 2:18 Amazon
Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), opera
16 2:03 Amazon
17 3:11 Amazon
18 1:35 Amazon
19 1:46 Amazon
20 2:03 Amazon
21 3:05 Amazon
22 1:25 Amazon
23 1:40 Amazon
24 1:24 Amazon
25 1:23 Amazon
26 2:10 Amazon
27 1:36 Amazon
28 3:21 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick