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Featuring German cabaret songs from the Weimar Republic by Hanns Eisler, Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, Franz Waxman and Theo MacKeben.

Royal Albert Hall London
Wednesday 2 September 1998 at 10.00pm

With the BBC Singers and the Matrix Ensemble conducted by Robert Ziegler. Presented as Prom 59 in the BBCs 1998 Proms Season.

Musical Numbers
Little SymphonyHanns Eisler
Nanna's SongHanns Eisler
Pirate JennyKurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht
(The Threepenny Opera)
To a Portable RadioHanns Eisler
Song of the Nazi Soldier's WifeHanns Eisler
Bilder aus der KriegsfibelHanns Eisler
Madam's SongHanns Eisler
Barbara SongKurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht
(The Threepenny Opera)
To Those Born Later 1 and 2Hanns Eisler
Cannon SongKurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht
(The Threepenny Opera)
Suite No 2Hanns Eisler
Ballad of the Jewish Whore Marie SandersHanns Eisler
Alone in a Big CityFranz Waxman
The Night Is Not Only for SleepingTheo MacKeben
Surabaya JohnnyKurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht


Ute Lemper was originally scheduled for this Prom, but she was replaced by Maria Friedman.

Quotes from the Press

"The last time I heard Maria Friedman at this venue she was singing in a gala tribute to George Gershwin. Since then she has taken the lead in Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin's psycho-musical Lady In The Dark. Her late-night Proms appearance, devoted to the songs of Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler and Bertolt Brecht, offered more proof of her rare versatility.
The problem she confronted on Wednesday lay in exorcising the ghost of Ute Lemper, who was originally scheduled to appear alongside Robert Ziegler's Matrix Ensemble. While it may be true that Friedman is the better actress, and not all Brecht and Weill enthusiasts are wild about Lemper's interpretations of the classic texts, there was no denying that a certain idiomatic spark was missing from the evening. Neither is the Albert Hall ideal for material this intimate.
Without a full orchestra to cushion her, Friedman sounded under-powered on Pirate Jenny and the Eisler-Brecht collaboration, Nanna's Song. Her light voice - better suited to musical theatre than the concert stage - largely lacked that elusive combination of ardour and world-weariness. Surabaya Johnny was much more persuasive, Friedman's skills as an actress allowing her to heighten the aura of anguish and betrayal. She brought a quiet dignity to the appeals to posterity embedded in To Those Born Later.
If the vocals proved variable, Ziegler's arrangements, dallying with jazz textures and rhythms, were superbly handled. Room was also found for pieces as varied as Eisler's Kleine Sinfonie and the film music of his Suite No 2.
The BBC Singers, together with Carolyn Foulkes, Andrew Murgatroyd and Stuart MacIntyre, joined Ziegler for the most idiosyncratic items of all, Eisler's choral settings based on the 'War Primer' verse captions written by Brecht to accompany a series of war photographs. The text did not extend far beyond routine anti-war sentiments and paeans to 'the red walls of Moscow'. Stirring music but partial history, as was the insinuation in the programme that Eisler's deportation from the US in 1948 was the work of Joe McCarthy. "Honest" Joe did not begin to make headlines until two years later." Clive Davies, The Times (4 September 1998)

Radio Broadcast

The entire concert was broadcast live by BBC Radio 3.


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