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Weimar & Back

NI6367
£10.99

Details

There’s the view that cabaret started off in the 19th century as “the salon of petty criminals and prostitutes”. In place of gilded drawing rooms were smoky dives and rather than offering a venue for artistic transcendence, it offered shaky boards on upturned crates or beer barrels. These boards, in German “Brette” were further parodied in the diminutive as “Brettel” – or “little boards”, offering a name to the songs performed on such makeshift stages. It soon became fashionable for urban bohemians to frequent such low-life dives bringing a certain gentrification in their wake. In Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Barcelona, the bawdy songs that would have been more typical of English sea-side music halls were replaced by social satire, often pulling heavy political punches. Yet if there’s a single difficulty about Cabaret, it would be its inability to transcend locality, time and place. Cabaret like operetta, is essentially local, and rarely even survives into the following week or year. Its pre-war material was the equivalent of the satirical television programs of today – enormously entertaining while being “to the minute” relevant, making references to issues or people everyone recognized. Less entertaining is returning to the same material a year or a decade later. Events, politicians and social mores have moved on. Yet some elements survived either because the music and text were timeless in themselves, or emerged decades – or indeed, a century later, as provocatively contemporary. Struggles for social justice such as “Me Too” or “Black Lives Matter” are embryonically echoed in songs such as “Chuck all of the Men out of the Reichstag” or “Das Lila Lied”. Even today, we return to music to poke fun at society while making serious political points as a viable tool of passive resistance. True geniuses such as Hollaender, Spoliansky, Heymann and yes, Hughes & Limb could move the genre beyond supporting amusing texts with four-square accompaniments to true musical brilliance.

Michael Haas. Music Producer, Historian, Author.

Weimar & Back

Reviews

In Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Barcelona, the bawdy songs that would have been more typical of English sea-side music halls were replaced by social satire, often pulling heavy political punches. Yet if there’s a single difficulty about Cabaret, it would be its inability to transcend locality, time and place. Cabaret like operetta, is essentially local, and rarely even survives into the following week or year. Its pre-war material was the equivalent of the satirical television programs of today – enormously entertaining while being “to the minute” relevant, making references to issues or people everyone recognized. Less entertaining is returning to the same material a year or a decade later. Events, politicians and social mores have moved on. Yet some elements survived either because the music and text were timeless in themselves, or emerged decades – or indeed, a century later, as provo catively contemporary. Struggles for social justice such as “Me Too” or “Black Lives Matter” are embryonically echoed in songs such as “Chuck all of the Men out of the Reichstag” or “Das Lila Lied”. Even today, we return to music to poke fun at society while making serious political points as a viable tool of passive resistance. True geniuses such as Hollaender, Spoliansky, Heymann and yes, Hughes & Limb could move the genre beyond supporting amusing texts with four-square accompaniments to true musical brilliance.  Michael Haas. Music Producer, Historian, Author

.... for those with adventurous tastes this new recording of old songs and new designed to evoke the spirit of the pre war German cabaret scene will have great appeal.
 
Melinda Hughes has made a name for herself as a satirical cabaret artist as well as touring for three years as soloist with the Andre Rieu Strauss Orchestra and singing in opera so her talents are widespread. For this CD she combines songs of the period by Kurt Weill, Freidrich Hollaender and Mischa Spoliansky with new material in similar vein she has written with her collaborator/pianist Jeremy Limb. With an accompanying ensemble evocative of the period this makes compelling listening and is a CD that demands to be listened to a few times in order to fully appreciate its merits.  Gerry Stonestreet, June In Tune