Ute Lemper – Blood & Feathers (2005) Live from the Cafe Carlyle

by | Jan 4, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Ute Lemper – Blood & Feathers (2005)
Live from the Cafe Carlyle

Studio: DRG 18002
Video: 4:3 full screen
All Regions code
Audio: PCM stereo
Extras: 2 bonus tracks
Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Rating: ****

This is not the first video presentation Dietrich-like diva Lemper has done, but it’s a masterpiece of cabaret-singer entertainment. Lemper really digs into the lyrics of all the songs , which is a cabaret characteristic as epitomized by icons such as Mabel Mercer.  But unlike Mercer and some others, Lemper has a fantastic voice plus amazing foreign language abilities.  Her English has no hint of her German origin and her French sounds gorgeous and so perfectly pronounced I could almost understand it. But since mostly I can’t (in spite of my surname) I was disappointed at the lack of English subtitles on this DVD.  I didn’t mind it as much on the songs sung in German since I am quite familiar with the Kurt Weill repertory.  I was especially looking forward to finally understanding what Milord was all about; guess I’ll have to Google that. During some of the Weill numbers she switches smoothly from German to English and back again.

Lemper’s theme of Blood and Feathers refers to the contrasts between the hard-boiled cynical songs such as her opening Pirate Jenny and Liar,Liar, and the softer character of songs like Sondheim’s The Ladies Who Lunch.  The central portion of the lengthy program is a seven-tune “Moon Medley” which stresses the threatening, psychopathic qualities associated with the moon more than the dreamy, romantic ones. In between some of the songs she talks about the composers and performers associated with them, such as Weill and Brecht, Edith Piaf, and Kander & Ebb.  She envisions the latter duo – who she worked with as Sally Bowles in Cabaret – as a modern-day Brecht & Weill.  The very capable instrumental backing to Lemper’s vocal artistry is provided by her quarter of piano, guitar, bass and drums.  Pianist Vana Gierig is a standout.  I especially dug his arrangement of September Song by Weill to open and close with one of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies. The final two Weill tunes provided as a bonus were videographed at a different time and Lemper is less theatrical in her delivery for these.  Of all the singers who have interpreted Kurt Weill’s songs since Lotte Lenya I find Lemper offers the most perfect delivery I have experienced; she seems to be living the songs.  If you’re a fan of the true cabaret genre, you shouldn’t miss this sublime DVD.

Tracks: Pirate Jenny; Milord; Blood and Feathers; Moon Medley: Bilbao Song, Moon Dance, Moon Over Bourbon Street, Moon of Alabama, Moon at the Window, It’s Only a Paper Moon, Grapefruit Moon; Lili Marlene: Muenchhausen/The Baron of Lies; Accordeoniste; Cabaret Medley; Surabaya Johnny; September Song.

– John Sunier


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