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Masterpieces of Cabaret - Songs by Britten, Schoenberg, Bolcom / Applebaum, Hamelin

Bolcolm / Schoenberg / Britten / Applebaum
Release Date: 11/01/1993 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 729   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Benjamin BrittenArnold SchoenbergWilliam Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André HamelinJody Applebaum
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This recording, entitled Masterpieces of Cabaret, is a joy. I've relished listening to it several times, and played excerpts for friends throughout this reviewing cycle. Applebaum and Hamelin (a husband-and-wife team) have taken up a noble tradition established by their friends and mentors, Joan Morris and William Bolcom. Applebaum, in her thoughful notes for the recording, suggests that "cabaret" is really a very specialized genre, not the same as nightclub singing (though there is inevitably some overlap). She believes that only when there is a particular balance of satire, wit, Hghthearted musical experiment, elegant sexual innuendo, and organic conception does true cabaret arise. Thus, she feels that early 20th-century Europe Read more was the true home of cabaret, and that in America the form has never really taken root (she sees the Bolcom songs as a glorious exception, and a loving homage to the genre). One may not agree with this exact definition, but it is a thought-provoking point of view, and it serves to conceptually organize the works of this program in a very satisfying way.

The Britten songs were written in 1937, and remind us that the composer had a deep engagement with popular culture that predated his emergence as England's preeminent operatic composer (a point underscored by the recent production by the New York City Opera of his Paul Bunyan, a work from the same period). The texts by Auden are models of effortless, sophisticated wit, and Britten has the gift of creating concise harmonic progressions that act as compelling "hooks" in every song. The burbling piano vamp in Tell Me the Truth About Love is one example, and the refrain "But he frowned like thunder, and went away" from Johnny is another (and the latter song is fascinating, in that it begins as a wicked parody of a sentimental Victorian ballad, only to discover a genuine poignancy in its narrator's plight by the end).

Schoenberg's 1901 Brettl-Lieder are the perfect riposte to any listener who thinks the composer was only capable of either expressionist hysteria or cerebral serialist structures. All of these songs sing with passion and sparkle with wit. Each partakes of the spirit of Viennese Gemütlichkeit, with lilting waltz rhythms, mock martial fanfares, and sensuous reveries. My personal favorites are Galatea and Mahnung, but every song has its special charm.

William Bolcom's two books of Cabaret Songs (1977-83) are simply miraculous. Using lyrics by Arnold Weinstein (which are indeed some of the most artfully crafted in American musical theater anyplace, anytime), Bolcom runs his usual eclectic gamut of styles and modes of expression. It all could be too cute, too superficial, were it not for one salient fact—Bolcom can invest any musical idea with real substance, great expressive meaning, and a wicked sense of fun. Thus, even though they may sound a little familiar, the songs never sound like ripoffs. Instead, each takes a model and takes it into a new personalized realm—the neo-spiritual of Waitin ', the Weillian acerbity of Song of Black Max, the Latin bounce of Amor, the Broadway razzmatazz of Fur (Murray the Furrier), the torch song of Toothbrush Time—every one of these songs is familiar yet utterly memorable in its own right.

Jody Karin Applebaum has fabulous diction, very sure intonation, and a telling dramatic sense. Time and again I found myself laughing out loud at the way she delivers a line. (It is worth noting that as an encore she sings A Word on My Ear by Flanders and Swann, which is a hilarious confession of tone-deafness by an operatic diva. She is able to project deliberate out-of-tuneness with as much wit and precision as she does its opposite.) Her voice is a bit shrill in its highest register, and a little small in lower register, which now and then leads to balance problems with the piano. Nevertheless, these are minor issues when weighed in relation to her compelling musicianship. Marc-André Hamelin, of course, is one of our great pianistic virtuosos, and while his performance is flawless, he also shows true musical modesty by taking his role of accompanist completely seriously. There is great wit in his playing that matches that of his partner, but never becomes distracting.

My only criticism of the production of the disc comes from its being a live performance recording. I enjoy the sense of a real concert, mirroring the classic environment of cabaret, including the audience response in the midst of songs (almost always laughter). What I don't enjoy as much is the applause between every song—it starts to disrupt the flow of the cycles, and feels redundant when one is not part of that particular audience. Also, the sound, while serviceable, is a little boomy, with Applebaum seeming too distant in places.

But these are not deciding factors in my recommendation. This is a marvelous disc, and (according to the never definitive Schwann catalog), it gives us our only CD versions currently in print of the Britten and Bolcom. That alone would be reason to buy, but fortunately the level of artistry by these two performers seals the deal and gives us hope that the cabaret tradition Applebaum advocates is in good hands for the immediate future.

-- Robert Carl, FANFARE [3/1999] Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Cabaret Songs (4) by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 15 Minutes 16 Secs. 
2.
Cabaret Songs: Galathea by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Jody Applebaum (), Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901-1905 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
3.
Cabaret Songs: Gigerlette by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Jody Applebaum (), Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs. 
4.
Cabaret Songs: Der genügsame Liebhaber by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: Modern 
Written: 1901; Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 2 Minutes 32 Secs. 
5.
Cabaret Songs: Einfältiges Lied by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
6.
Cabaret Songs: Mahnung by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 
7.
Cabaret Songs: Jedem das Seine by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 4 Minutes 21 Secs. 
8.
Cabaret Songs: Seit ich so viele Weiber sah "Aus dem Spiegel von Arcadia" by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
9.
Over the piano, for voice & piano by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: Modern 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 2 Minutes 20 Secs. 
10.
Fur (Murray the Furrier), for voice & piano by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: Modern 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
11.
Cabaret Songs (12), Vol 1 and 2: no 3, He tipped the waiter by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 2 Minutes 54 Secs. 
12.
Cabaret Songs (12), Vol 1 and 2: no 4, Waitin' by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977-1985; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
13.
Song of Black Max (as told by the de Kooning Boys), for voice & piano by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: Modern 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
14.
Cabaret Songs (12), Vol 1 and 2: no 6, Amor by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977-1985; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
15.
Cabaret Songs (12), Vol 1 and 2: no 7, Places to live by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 1 Minutes 51 Secs. 
16.
Cabaret Songs (12), Vol 1 and 2: no 8, Toothbrush Time by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977-1985; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 3 Minutes 40 Secs. 
17.
Cabaret Songs (12), Vol 1 and 2: no 9, Surprise! by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 0 Minutes 48 Secs. 
18.
Cabaret Songs (12), Vol 1 and 2: no 10, The Actor by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 1 Minutes 32 Secs. 
19.
Cabaret Songs (12), Vol 1 and 2: no 11, Oh Close the Curtain by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
20.
Cabaret Songs: George by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: Modern 
Written: 1977-1996 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 3 Minutes 26 Secs. 
21.
Word on my Ear by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: Modern 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 5 Minutes 36 Secs. 
22.
Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise by William Bolcom
Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin (Piano), Jody Applebaum ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/02/1990 
Venue:  Settlement Music School, Queen St., Phil 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Tell me the Truth about Love
Funeral Blues
Johnny
Calypso
Brettl-Lieder (text by Colly, H. Salus, O.J. Bierbaum, F. Wedekind, G. Hochstetter and E. Schikaneder): No. 6. Galathea
Brettl-Lieder (text by Colly, H. Salus, O.J. Bierbaum, F. Wedekind, G. Hochstetter and E. Schikaneder): No. 7. Gigerlette
Brettl-Lieder (text by Colly, H. Salus, O.J. Bierbaum, F. Wedekind, G. Hochstetter and E. Schikaneder): No. 1. Der genugsame Liebhaber
Brettl-Lieder (text by Colly, H. Salus, O.J. Bierbaum, F. Wedekind, G. Hochstetter and E. Schikaneder): No. 2. Einfaltiges Lied
Brettl-Lieder (text by Colly, H. Salus, O.J. Bierbaum, F. Wedekind, G. Hochstetter and E. Schikaneder): No. 5. Mahnung
Brettl-Lieder (text by Colly, H. Salus, O.J. Bierbaum, F. Wedekind, G. Hochstetter and E. Schikaneder): No. 4. Jedem des Seine
Brettl-Lieder (text by Colly, H. Salus, O.J. Bierbaum, F. Wedekind, G. Hochstetter and E. Schikaneder): No. 8. Seit ich so viele Weiber sah (Aus dem Spiegel von Arcadia)
Cabaret Songs: No. 1. Over the Piano
Cabaret Songs: No. 2. Fur (Murray the Furrier)
Cabaret Songs: No. 3. He Tipped the Waiter
Cabaret Songs: No. 4. Waitin
Cabaret Songs: No. 5. Song of Black Max
Cabaret Songs: No. 6. Amour
Cabaret Songs, Vol. 2: No. 1. Places to Live
Cabaret Songs, Vol. 2: No. 2. Toothbrush Time
Cabaret Songs, Vol. 2: No. 3. Surprice
Cabaret Songs, Vol. 2: No. 4. The Actor
Cabaret Songs, Vol. 2: No. 5. Oh, Close the Curtain
Cabaret Songs, Vol. 2: No. 6. George
Cabaret Songs, Vol. 3: No. 1. Word on my Ear
Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise

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