Featuring a deluxe 48 page booklet with complete lyrics, dozens of colorphotos and in-depth liner notes, the CD celebrates German-born composer Kurt Weill and the lyrics of Maxwell Anderson, Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Langston Hughes, Alan Jay Lerner, Ogden Nash, Paul Green and Ann Ronell. It’s based upon the concert which opened the 92nd Street Y’s 36th annual “Lyrics and Lyricists” season in November 2005 and is conceived by Andrea Marcovicci. Musical Director Shelly Markham. It features Anna Bergman, Barbara Brussell, Mark Coffin, Chuck Cooper, Jeff Harnar and Maude Maggart.
ABOUT KURT WEILL:
Before Kurt Weill fled Nazi Germany for Paris in March 1933, he had composed a dozen works for the musical theater. Early on in his career, Weill said, “I need poetry to set my imagination in motion,” and he established a lifelong practice of collaborating with only the most talented lyricists. In Germany his two most famous partners were the playwrights Georg Kaiser and Bertolt Brecht. In America, he teamed up with great American lyricists and poets like Alan Jay Lerner, Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash, Langston Hughes and Maxwell Anderson. This recording follows the musical life of Kurt Weill in America to explore the work of several influential American lyricists in the context of their work with this singular composer. Their collective output showed Weill himself adapting to his new country, absorbing influences from his American colleagues and enjoying the newfound artistic freedom that America offered.
Weill collaborated with giants of American song like Ira Gershwin, as in the Broadway operetta Firebrand of Florence (1944) and Lady in the Dark (1940). He wrote the rarely-performed 1948 Broadway vaudeville Love Life with Alan Jay Lerner, which features the same characteristic wit and whimsy as Lerner’s best-known work, My Fair Lady.
But Weill also worked with lyricists who were primarily playwrights and poets. Pulitzer-prize-winning North Carolina playwright Paul Green, who was known for his portrayal of Southern American folk life, was Weill’s first American collaborator; the project was Johnny Johnson (1936), the offbeat story of a peace-loving soldier in World War I. With playwright and lyricist Maxwell Anderson, Weill wrote Knickerbocker Holiday (1938), which starred Walter Huston in the Broadway production and featured the hit songs “It Never Was You” and “September Song.” Anderson and Weill also started work on a musical version of Huckleberry Finn, but Weill completed only five songs before his death in 1950. These songs were performed in public for the first time at the 92nd Street Y under the direction of L&L founder and Weill’s conductor, Maurice Levine, in 1952. The great American poet Langston Hughes wrote the lyrics for Weill’s 1947 opera Street Scene, which was based on Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play of the same name. Another great American poet and journalist, Ogden Nash, collaborated with Weill to write lyrics to the 1943 Broadway hit, One Touch of Venus.
ABOUT ANDREA MARCOVICCI:
Andrea Marcovicci, the “Queen of Cabaret,” recently celebrated her twentieth anniversary at the Gardenia in Los Angeles, the Plush Room in San Francisco and the Oak Room of New York’s Algonquin. She returns to the Oak Room in May with just love… By Request. Andrea has created over twenty-five nightclub acts, performed at the White House, and played to sold-out houses at the esteemed LICEU Opera House in Barcelona. She enjoyed he same reception at her Carnegie Hall solo debut with the American Symphony Orchestra and most recently at Town Hall with I’ll Be Seeing You… Love Songs of WWII. As a director, Andrea conceived four programs for “Lyrics & Lyricists” including “Easy to Love: The Lyrics of Cole Porter”, “Kurt Weill in America”, “Thanks for the Memories: The Lyrics of Leo Robin”, and the upcoming look at standards penned post 1965.
ABOUT THE CAST:
Anna Bergman‘s most recent career highlights include Lincoln Center with Barbara Cook, Carnegie Hall (Ira At 100), Kennedy Center (A Little Night of Music), The White House, Aspen Music Festival (Street Scene) and Intiman Theatre (Adam Guettel & Friends). Barbara Brussell, a 1997 Back Stage Bistro Award winner and a six-time MAC Award finalist, has created over a dozen nightclub acts, soloed with symphony orchestras and recorded two CD’s for LML Music. Mark Coffin, who has performed internationally and throughout the states, has appeared in a tribute to Don Hewitt of “60 Minutes” performing Noel Coward, at the Yale Club, at Alice Tully Hall, the Ethical Cultural Center and Carnegie Hall. Chuck Cooper has been seen on Broadway in The Life, for which he received a Tony Award, Caroline Or Change, Lennon, Chicago, Passion and many more. He has also been guest lead on numerous TV shows like “Law and Order,” “Oz,” “NYPD Blue,” and “Cosby.” Jeff Harnar has performed at Carnegie Hall for both the Cole Porter and Noel Coward centennial galas, a solo concert at Weill Recital Hall and as Michael Feinstein’s special guest at Zankel Hall. Jeff tours nationally with Shauna Hicks in their symphony orchestra concert I Got Rhythm: Mickey & Judy’s Hollywood. Maude Maggart, the acclaimed concert and club artist who is a mainstay of the Algonquin Hotel’s Oak Room, was featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List.” Her new CD Maude Maggart Live was praised by USA Today and Business Week.
ABOUT LYRICS & LYRICISTS:
The granddaddy of American songbook programs, Lyrics & Lyricists was launched in 1970 when Broadway conductor Maurice Levine and lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (The Wizard of Oz) took to the 92nd Street Y stage to discuss the then unusual topic of songwriting. Garnering praise and adulation from critics and audiences alike, the series explores the American Popular Song through the unique lens of the lyricist. Lyrics & Lyricists has hosted Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Johnny Mercer, Stephen Sondheim, Dorothy Fields, Alan Jay Lerner, Sheldon Harnick, Fred Ebb, Sammy Cahn, Stephen Schwartz, Tim Rice, Jerry Herman and many more. It has been one of the most popular and inventive series at the 92nd Street Y since its inception.
For more information:
Kurt Weill Foundation for Music at: kwf.org
92nd Street Y at: 92Y.org
— SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE By Robert Hurwitt 4/29/07
“The genius of Kurt Weill shines in the melodic mastery he brought to lyricists Maxwell Anderson, Ogden Nash, Langston Hughes, Oscar Hammerstein II, Alan Jay Lerner and Ira Gershwin. A generous 27 songs, from the underappreciated "Johnny Johnson" (1936) on, are beautifully rendered by seven superb voices and musical director Shelly Markham's small ensemble at this 2005 concert, scripted and directed by Andrea Marcovicci, in the 92nd Street Y Lyrics and Lyricists series. Selections range from familiar -- Chuck Cooper's celestially poignant "Lost in the Stars"; a swinging "I'm a Stranger Here Myself"; Barbara Brussell's lilting "Speak Low" -- to such rarities as Weill's last song, "This Time Next Year" (deftly styled by Marcovicci), and "The River Is So Blue" (cut from a 1937 film), sung with magnetic yearning by Maude Maggart, who also excels on "My Ship.”
— TORONTO STAR by Richard Ouzounian 5/17/07
“KURT WEILL IN AMERICA (Andreasong) – A 2005 concert celebrating the work of Kurt Weill on the American musical stage that featured an ace cast, including the likes of Mark Coffin, Jeff Harnar, Barbara Brussell and Andrea Marcovicci, led to this recording. This CD makes you aware of the breadth of styles in which Weill worked, from the simple romanticism of “It Never Was You” to the profound humanity of “Lost in the Stars.” Each singer gets a chance to shine, but if I had to pick one favourite it would be the husky fragility that Maude Maggart rings to “My Ship.”
— PLAYBILL.COM By Steven Suskin July 8, 2007
“This studio recording was based on a November 2005 concert in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series, taking us in roughly chronological order through the composer's nine Broadway musicals….. Here we have .. Weill played by piano, bass, drums, and reeds; the results are - as Liza Elliott might say - perfectly lovely. ..Everybody gets their solos, and they make the most of them. With repeated listenings, certain tracks have begun to stand out: "Johnny's Song" (Harnar), "Buddy on the Nightshift" (Maggart), "What Good Would the Moon Be? (Bergman), "Lonely House" (Coffin), "Here I'll Stay" (Brussell), "The River Is So Blue" (Maggart), "West Wind" (Harnar), "It Never Was You" (Marcovicci), "Thousands of Miles" (Cooper), "Foolish Heart" (Bergman), "Speak Low" (Brussell), "My Ship" (Maggart) and "September Song" (Coffin). There is plenty here that is worthwhile, and worth Weill. All told, "Kurt Weill in America" makes a fine sampler of the latter half of the Weill songbook. (I'm especially glad that they've included the astringently pessimistic "Nowhere to Go but Up" from Knickerbocker Holiday, which we hear all too infrequently.) Marcovicci and company give you plenty of provocative Weill.”
— NY Sun
“Weill’s American music is not only more musical than his earlier work, it is every bit as soaring and melodic as that of the major Great American Songbook composers.”
— NY Sun
“Anna Bergman, and the bassbaritone Chuck Cooper,... sang the love duet from “Street Scene” ... beautifully.”
— NY Sun
“Mr. Cooper .. provided the evening’s most moving moments during two songs from Weill’s musical tragedy “Lost in the Stars,” which railed against apartheid as that system was first being implemented in South Africa. Mr.Cooper’s rendition of the title song was glorious..(as was) the African-style ballad “Thousands of Miles,” a stunning song completely overlooked by pop and jazz singers (excepting Dick Haymes).”
Andreasong celebrates the unique flavor of composers like Kurt Weill, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and countless other great talents as well as new songwriters whose evocative and inventive compositions reflect this legacy in their complexity of lyric and…