By Kurt Weill (1900 –1950) I have: stand-alones of Symphonies 1 & 2; Mahogonny/Seven Deadly Sins; Three Penny Opera (Konig Ensemble); Three Penny Opera (Lotte Lenya). As mp3: Ute Lemper: Sings Weill; Lotte Lenya: Sings Weill. As lp to CD transfer: Berlin to Broadway/Martha Schlamme sings Weill; Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill.
My first exposure to Weill was, like many, Bobby Darin’s Mac The Knife & that first line about the shark’s teeth gave the smooth sing a real bite. It is a decent translation of Bertold Brecht’s original German lyrics by Marc Blitzstein. Of course it was years before I knew it was a Weill/Brecht composition.
Over the years I have seen various productions of nearly all of the theatre pieces they created together. Also some that were reconstructions using songs from various plays. All haver a strong political message & there is at least one standout song in each. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered Weill wrote music not for the stage! Symphonies, lieder etc. But it will be his theatre music he’ll be remembered for.
My first real purchase was the double lp Berlin to Broadway (since transferred to CD) that found remaindered when I lived in Cape Breton. This is a small ensemble show complex from Weill’s various other shows, told as a musical biography & sense is a sort of a biggest hits & it well worth tracking down. (not to be confused with some brass quartet release of the same title.)
One of the versions of The Three Penny features Weill’s muse Lotte Lenya. A great archival recording, the other is a more recent & is fine. Lotte’s set of his songs is excellent as well – her voice can be an acquired taste. Lemper’s set is fun cabaret & all the hits are there. Schlamme’s are more classical rather than cabaret.
The Symphonies are pleasant 20th century classical. No sense of his showtune work in them & if it weren’t for his theatre work they would be even less of a footnote than they are now. Did you know that Sullivan of Gilbert & Sullivan also wrote 24 operas, 11 major orchestral works, ten choral works and oratorios, two ballets & more?
If you are unfamiliar Weill start with any compilation of his theatre work.