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Salon Orchestra Favourites IV – German Hit Songs of the 1930s
Werner Richard HEYMANN (1896-1961)
Das gibt’s nur einmal [3:02]
Heut Nacht ist mir so O lala [2:17]
Es führt kein andrer Weg zur Seligkeit [4:06]
Irgendwo auf der Welt [5:13]
Liebling, mein Herz läßt dich grüßen [4:26]
Gerhard WINKLER (1906-1977)
Frühling in Sorrent [3:08]
Hexentanz [2:42]
Casanova-Lied [1:47]
Portugiesischer Fischertanz [3:05]
Rumänisches Zigeunerfest [5:09]
Der Geige Liebeslied [3:16]
Holländischer Holzschuhtanz [3:04]
Im Harem sitzen heulend die Eunuchen [3:05]
Peter KREUDER (1905-1981)
Du gehst durch all meine Träume [5:48]
Für eine Nacht voller Seligkeit [3:31]
Wenn die Sonne hinter den Dächern versinkt [4:59]
Daran zerbricht man doch nicht [2:13]
Das muß ein Stück vom Himmel sein [2:29]
Sag beim Abschied leise Servus[2:22]
Annette Postel (vocals)
Salonorchester Schwanen/Georg Huber
rec. 15-17 April 2005 Clara Wieck Auditorium, Sandhausen Germany
NAXOS 8.557768 [65:43]

 

The German hits from the 1930s have sadly faded from the scene. In America, aside from "Falling in Love Again" and "Mack the Knife", two songs that now appear to be relegated under "kitsch", little else remains. This is a shame, really, as there are some wonderful tunes out there, by some masters of the genre. Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, and Jerome Kern all deserve their place in the sun, but the likes of Friedrich Hollaender, Mischa Spoliansky, and Werner Richard Heymann have been unduly neglected outside their homeland.

Of the songwriters represented on this disc, I am most familiar with Heymann, who wrote the music for more than forty films, composing his first song at five years of age. He composed for many types of audience; for the cabaret stage as well as the orchestra hall, dance hall, and silent film theatre. One of his biggest hits is the opening track, originally sung by Lillian Harvey in 1931 for the film Der Kongress Tanzt. I have two performances, both evidently from the film, and Salonorchester Schwanen with Annette Postel singing do much better with their rather sentimental arrangement. Both of the versions for the film (one a reprise) are quirkier (the reprise prominently features xylophone) and Postel soars over Harvey’s rather wobbly soprano. Liebling, mein Herz läßt dich grüßen, sung originally by the legendary Comedian Harmonists in 1930, again for a film, is performed beautifully here by Postel, the whole performance languid and silky.

But all isn’t quiet background music for elegant couples at intimate tables just off the polished parquet dance-floor. The parquet makes its own demands on occasion, especially with these pieces by Gerhard Winkler, known for snappier dance numbers. Hexentanz as well as the wonderful Rumanisches Zigeunerfest as well as the then-quite-exotic Im Harem sitzen heulend die Eunuchen are perfect introductions to Winkler’s style. The ensemble’s musical saw in Hexentanz is a lovely touch here, and the whimsical playing for all three of these calls to mind the recordings of another wonderful dance orchestra, the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, which has somewhat of a cult following in the US.

As Jonathan Woolf so aptly stated in his review of this disc (link), your enthusiasm for this disc will depend on a liking for a certain amount of recreated kitsch. One thing about the music of this time, though, was its stance toward sentimentality. For the most part, these were decidedly anti-nostalgic tunes, performed by and enjoyed by the good-times young men and women crowding into the bacchanalia of Berlin before things fell to pieces — the Berlin of Isherwood’s youth, and it’s this tone that the Salonorchester Schwanen sometimes misses. Lillian Harvey’s performance of Irgendwo auf der Welt has a definite sense of sadness and longing that adds a depth to the tune, whereas here, with this modern performance, it tends to come across as merely light music; a nostalgic pleasant song.

The tunes on this disc are memorable and certainly should be played more — Guild and Naxos do a service. For the real deal though, the original recordings of many of these tunes are still available and should certainly also be looked up.


David Blomenberg

see also review by Jonathan Woolf



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