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Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady

I am proud to announce that we have just finished recording our first Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady CD, together with musical friends of extraordinary talent:

Raphaël D’Agostino – cornet and flügelhorn

Hendrik Vanattenhoven – double bass

Peter Ploegaerts – drums and percussion

The CD release is planned for Spring 2018.

 

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Penelope Turner (voice) and Andrew Wise (piano)

Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady is our way of keeping Kurt Weill’s music alive and kicking: it deserves it.

In the context of today’s world, and all the more in view of recent political developments, many of the song texts set by Weill (for example, those written by Bertolt Brecht), remain strikingly relevant. They should be heard by as many people as possible.

But with our interpretations I want us to go further than a simple re-airing of the texts – however important that may be. My aim is to emphasize the beauty of Weill’s music as well as underlining the message. I want to bring into focus his unique bitter-sweet blend.

I am fed up of people saying they’ve “had enough of experts”; that we “intellectualize too much”. This project is my small attempt to help reestablish the link between the intellect and the emotions. Wisdom can only result from a marriage of head and heart. This music has the potential to stimulate the brain while at the same time grabbing the soul and touching our essence.

I love this music. I want to share it as far and wide as possible. I believe it can help us to tackle some of the enormous problems our society currently faces: the failings of our economic system and the rich-poor divide; the misery of some people’s lives and what it can make them do; the subjugation (still!) of women; the complications and complexities of the human heart.

And some of the songs are just in there for the fun 😉

Here is a sample of our sound – see what you think:

Teaser video:

Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady offers programmes of music where classical, cabaret and jazz meet.

Weill at Sea

Somewhere in Between

Marlene in Paris

Just Kurt

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Weill at Sea

Inspired by the sea and by the many wonderful works written by Weill and his various librettist on this theme.

There’s Pirate Jenny, who stares out to sea as she dreams her revenge fantasy; there’s Marie from Marie Galante, who imagines sailing away on her ship of hope; there’s the forsaken lover of the irresistible, unreliable sailor, Surabaya Johnny: he told her he worked on the railway – and she believed him…

And then we have been so bold as to add to our Kurt Weill platter other pearls from the period. They are all watery jewels, and, in deference to the rather lovely pun on ‘Weill at Sea’ that makes it ‘Violet Sea’, they often have a colourful tinge (such as Blaue Nacht am Hafen and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea; but we also interpret the ever-haunting Cry me a River).

Somewhere in Between

Somewhere in Between

A woman between ages, between men. A love between excitement and destruction. Somewhere between sweetness and sadness. Somewhere between classical and jazz.

Proud of being difficult to classify, ‘Somewhere in Between’ is a story from the buffer zone: what happens in those ‘in between’ areas that make life interesting. Featuring songs from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady experiments with music whose sweetness contrasts – sometimes brutally – with the sharpness of the lyrics. (Just think of Kurt Weill’s ‘Mack the Knife’ with its fun, swinging, jazzy music and the words that are as hard as steel.) Although many songs from this era are sugar sweet and sentimental, we concentrate on the pithier stuff – music that was formed by the context in which it was created.

Marlene in Paris

The music of Marlene Dietrich and friends in 1930s Paris

A programme inspired by Marlene Dietrich that conjures up the flamboyance, elegance, decadence, glamour, and dark political undertones of Paris between the two World Wars.

In the 1930s, Dietrich spent much time in Paris, living on the Champs-Elysées and mixing with influential figures from the period such as Jean Cocteau and his circle of talented friends. Our programme includes music by Francis Poulenc and Kurt Weill as well as songs that Marlene herself made famous throughout her career.

 

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Songs from the 20s, 30, and 40s by Kurt Weill

Berlin theatre songs, 1940s Broadway hits and French chansons à texte. The golden thread is the music of Kurt Weill, whose brilliant settings enhance the bite of the elegant and provocative texts provided by Bert Brecht, Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash and Maurice Magre. The interpretation is modern and sassy; a high-quality musical performance combines with a pithy text-biased approach: a perfect new setting for a string of vintage pearls.

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