The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Vin­cent Plush

Bal­lads of the Pleasant Life: Kurt Weill, Weimar and Ex­ile Peter Cole­man-Wright and Nexas Quar­tet ABC Clas­sics Not quite 40 years ago, Teresa Stratas caused a stir with her per­for­mances and record­ings of the mu­sic of Kurt Weill. Lotte Lenya, Weill’s wi­dow, had en­trusted the Greek-Amer­i­can so­prano with un­known ver­sions and manuscripts of her hus­band’s mu­sic. It emerged that Lenya had made ad­just­ments to the mu­sic, even trans­pos­ing some songs to suit her lim­ited vo­cal ca­pac­ity. All this sug­gested Weill viewed his songs as art songs in the tra­di­tion of Schu­bert and Brahms, not just as cabaret tunes. In that spirit, bari­tone Peter Cole­man-Wright has drawn on the col­lec­tion of Barry Humphries, well known as an ex­pert in all things Weimar. To­gether they have re­leased a recital of 20 songs by Weill and Hanns Eisler, and oth­ers bet­ter known as opera com­posers, Franz Schreker, Robert Stolz and Erich Wolf­gang Korn­gold. The selections are grouped in three brack­ets — work­ers’ songs, love songs and Weill stan­dards — and are ac­com­pa­nied in the main by the sassy Weimar sound of the Syd­ney-based Nexas sax­o­phone quar­tet. Cole­man-Wright, that con­sum­mate oper­atic singer-ac­tor, brings his daz­zling stage skills to the fore in the hi­lar­i­ous cat­a­logue of Rus­sian com­posers col­lated in Tschaikowsky as well as the over­ripe morsel of Arnold Schoen­berg, Dank. Any short­com­ings are com­pen­sated for by the glis­ten­ing clar­ity and Teu­tonic pre­ci­sion of the sax­o­phones, with con­tri­bu­tions from pi­anist Ben­jamin Burton.

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