Various Artists

Kurt Weill

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This unlicensed German compilation of music composed by Kurt Weill presents on its two discs the two parts of Weill's career, the first devoted to period recordings of his work in Germany in the late 1920s and early ‘30s (with most of the singing in German), and the second given over to his American period when he wrote Broadway musicals. The collection begins with the 1930 studio cast recording of Die Dreigroschenoper (aka The Threepenny Opera), featuring members of the original Berlin cast, among them Weill's wife Lotte Lenya. Lenya is also heard on a couple of 1930 recordings of songs from Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (aka Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny), including "Alabama Song" (originally written and sung in English). A few tracks from Happy End reveal the pops and crackles of transfers from old 78s of 1929 and 1931, but are otherwise listenable. Among these, Marianne Oswald sings "Surabaya-Jonny" in French. The rest of the disc features instrumental recordings of music from The Threepenny Opera. The second disc borrows from studio and original Broadway cast recordings of the Weill shows Knickerbocker Holiday (with Walter Huston singing "September Song"), One Touch of Venus (with Mary Martin), and Lady in the Dark (with Gertrude Lawrence and Danny Kaye, who sing some of the same songs). "Lost in the Stars" (by Huston) and "Lover Man" (by Lenya) are featured in recordings from the early '40s when they were intended for a show to be called Ulysses Africanus that later was retitled Lost in the Stars. The album ends with the contents of a couple of rare singles made by actress Helen Hayes for RCA Victor in the spring of 1942 that feature patriotic recitations in keeping with the early days of U.S. involvement in World War II. Again, the transfers sometimes betray the age of the recordings in surface noise from the old vinyl discs. But the album provides vintage performances of more than two-hours-and-21 minutes of Weill's better-known music for the stage. (Although these tracks are in the public domain in Europe, at least some of them continue to be claimed for copyright in the U.S., where this album is not available for sale.)