Thousands of Miles
Kurt WEILL (1900-1950)
Nanna’s Lied (1939) [3.24]
Pirate Jenny – Barbara Song (from The Threepenny Opera) (1928) [4.23]
Trouble Man (from Lost in the Stars) (1949) [3.35]
Je ne t’aime pas (1934) [4.42]
Thousands of Miles – Big Mole (from Lost in the Stars) (1949) [4.41]
Don’t Look Now (1948) [3.01]
Lonely House – We’ll Go Away Together (from Street Scene) (1947) [5.43]
Der Abschiedsbrief (1933?) [3.18]
Denn Wie Mann Sich Bettet, So Liegt Man (from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) (1930) [4.33]
Buddy on the Nightshift – Berlin in Licht (1942) [3.40]
Alma MAHLER (1879-1964)
Hymne (1924) [5.19]
Die Stille Stadt (1911) [3.05]
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Schneegl÷ckchen (1911-13) [2.51]
Mond, so gehst du wieder auf (Vier Lieder des Abschieds – 1920-21) [4.10]
Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942)
Und hat der Tag all seine Qual (1899) [4.18]
Selige Stunde (1901?) [2.15]
Kate Lindsey (mezzo-soprano)
Baptiste Trotignon (piano and arrangements)
rec. Teldex Studio, Berlin, 2016
ALPHA 272 [63.45]
Here is an impressive and imaginative programme conceived and assembled by this partnership of singer and accompanist. Interestingly, they come from rather different backgrounds. The album’s booklet includes a discussion with them about their concept and how their disparate interests coalesced to produce this CD – his of free-style jazz and her more formal working experience. Together they forged a style that allowed flexibility yet provided for the fullest expression of the emotional intensity and poignancy of the texts of these songs, especially those with texts by Brecht that so often speak of the twilight world of sex exploitation.
Kate Lindsey has the most juicy mezzo timbre and riveting delivery, here conveying, in character, when appropriate, harsh, coarse tones and contrasting poignancy. She fully realises the emotional angst and turmoil of the Brecht songs, empathising completely with the ladies of the night, of the oldest profession, colouring her voice to demonstrate her fury and utter contempt, defiance and indignation with regard to the clients in her life. For me Lindsey’s own individual vision of these songs is as valid and convincing as that of Weill’s chosen interpreter and life-long partner, Lotte Lenya (I loved reading how Weill described her voice as “an octave below laryngitis”). Baptiste Trotignon’s inspired accompaniments that are, in themselves, arrangements that enhance texts by Bertold Brecht, Maxwell Anderson and others, often comment or suggest extra meanings to lift the whole experience. The Weill songs cover his Berlin period with numbers from The Threepenny Opera and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny through to his Paris experience, commencing in 1933, after he had to flee Nazi Germany, and where his sung ballet The Seven Deadly Sins was first performed and where he composed his lovely edgily-ironic song, Je ne t’aime pas (beautifully, heartfelt- sung here) was first intoned by soprano Lys Gauty, through to his final American period where Lady in the Dark and One Touch of Venus were produced on Broadway followed by Street Scene and Lost in the Stars – and his big hit September Song celebrated.
The three other composers represented on this disc also gravitated to America with varying success. All had continued the Viennese Lieder tradition. Of the two by Alma Mahler the gorgeous, melodic Hymne’ is outstanding and it allows Lindsey to show a different, warmer side of her talent. The Korngold lied, Mond, so gehst du wieder auf’ is a highlight of the composer’s lovely Abschiedlieder that the composer also arranged for voice and orchestra to lustrous effect. And, finally, to an ending in haunting solace: the two songs by Zemlinsky - Zemlinsky, spurned in love by Alma Mahler, and teacher to Korngold. Lindsey spins gold around these two songs. The first’s opening line translates as “And when the day has swept away all its distress…” and it proceeds in gentle consolation, the soothing melody arching beguilingly over words describing unearthly spirits “…holding star candles high in their hands, they slowly stride across the sky…”; yet there is something of an edge too in the text that is not overlooked in the song’s delivery. Selige Stunde,’ however rounds off the programme with the mezzo in blissful love and sweet repose.
An album that has already made repeated visits to my CD player and doubtless will continue to do so.