NEW YEAR’S CONCERT
Pierre Bleuse, conductor
Ute Lemper, vocals and speaking voice
Ute Lemper, the grande dame of the chanson, will ring in the New Year together with the Basel Chamber Orchestra and the Basler Madrigalisten under the baton of Pierre Bleuse. With music by Kurt Weill and others, they will bring the golden age of the ballad to life once more.—
Richard Strauss (1864–1949):
”Der Bürger als Edelmann”, suite for orchestra from the music for Molière’s comedy, op. 60
Manfred Honetschläger (arrangement; *1959):
”Weimarer Suite”, selected songs arranged for voice and orchestra
Kurt Weill (1900–1950):
”The Seven Deadly Sins”, a sung ballet in nine scenes for voice and chamber orchestra
“If I could wish for something / I’d like to be a little happy / Because if I were too happy / Then I’d long to have my sadness back” sings Marlene Dietrich in Friedrich Hollaender’s famous song. She’s describing the age-old human tragedy of always wanting what seems just beyond our reach. In our New Year’s Concert with the Basel Chamber Orchestra, Ute Lemper, the grande dame of the chanson, will take the part of Marlene Dietrich and transport us to the Germany of the 1920s and ’30s – a time of upheavals and contradictions that began full of hope but ended in catastrophe.
Besides songs by Hollaender, Kurt Weill, Mischa Spoliansky and Viktor Ullman, Lemper & Co. will offer “The Seven Deadly Sins”, the final joint work by Weill and Bertolt Brecht, both of whom were already living in exile when it was given its first performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris in 1933. In light of the personal conflicts that arose between the two men during their opera “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny”, it is astonishing that their “Seven Deadly Sins” was able to be realised at all. Even before they began work on it, Weill was already anticipating a rocky road ahead: “Music has a stronger impact than words. Brecht knows that, and he knows that I know it. But we never talk about it. If it were spoken about openly, we would no longer work together”. That is exactly what happened, and things soon escalated: “While we were rehearsing ‘Mahagonny‘, Brecht argued that the words had priority, whereas Weill insisted on the primacy of the music. […] Brecht knocked the camera out of the hands of a press photographer who had taken a snap of him and Weill together. ‘I’ll throw this fake Richard Strauss down the stairs in full war paint!’ Brecht shouted at Weill”. At its core, their dispute was all about the eternal question as to which of the two arts has primacy – poetry or music. Brecht and Weill couldn’t find an answer; but they pulled themselves together, Brecht wrote another libretto, Weill composed the music, and the resultant “Seven Deadly Sins” was yet another masterpiece by these two congenial partners.
Also on the programme in Andermatt is an arrangement for orchestra of Richard Strauss’s “comedy ballet” “Der Bürger als Edelmann”, which he wrote in collaboration with Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Their artistic pairing also didn’t always function without friction – but that is another story …
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