Elisabeth von Magnus

Tonight: Kurt Weill

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Tonight: Kurt Weill Review

by Patsy Morita

Tonight, a collection of Kurt Weill songs by Elisabeth von Magnus and Jacob Bogaart, contains some favorites plus a few more rarely heard ones. Most come from stage shows, but there are also individual works Weill wrote for particular singers, including Nannas Lied (for Lotte Lenya), Abschiedsbrief (for Marlene Dietrich), and Je ne t'aime pas (for Lys Gauty). Magnus and Bogaart work well together, but they take an almost art song approach to the music, which doesn't always work. Lonely House, for example, is a challenging work both because of its oddly shaped melody and because it takes a consistent attitude held throughout to make it work right. Magnus gives it more arched phrasing, which counteracts the languid nature of the song. She is most comfortable with the songs in German, with Schickelgruber and Abschiedsbrief being particularly good, bitter, and resigned, but not without some pride. The Sprechstimme in the latter is very effective. Otherwise, understandable pronunciation (and therefore some understanding of the songs for anyone unfamiliar with them) is sacrificed to her attention to well-designed phrasing and shaping of notes. The songs from Lost in the Stars would be more successful if Magnus were more comfortable with the English. Although also in English, the selections from One Touch of Venus are delivered a little more clearly and with characterization that matches the music well. That's the other uneven aspect of this disc. Magnus seems to give characterizations a backseat to her vocal technique, and it doesn't quite present the music in the best possible way. Tonight is listenable, but there are other performers who capture the essence of the same music with more complete and adept perception.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Elisabeth von Magnus 04:28 Amazon
2 Elisabeth von Magnus 05:01 Amazon
3 Elisabeth von Magnus 04:03 Amazon
Street Scene, opera
4 Elisabeth von Magnus 02:57 Amazon
5 Elisabeth von Magnus 02:39 Amazon
6 Elisabeth von Magnus 02:31 Amazon
7 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:40 Amazon
8 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:29 Amazon
9 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:11 Amazon
10 Elisabeth von Magnus 04:32 Amazon
11 Elisabeth von Magnus 01:53 Amazon
12 Elisabeth von Magnus 02:27 Amazon
13 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:47 Amazon
14 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:45 Amazon
15 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:00 Amazon
16 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:55 Amazon
17 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:03 Amazon
18 Elisabeth von Magnus 04:41 Amazon
19 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:03 Amazon
20 Elisabeth von Magnus 03:45 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick