Forever - The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda
La nuit dans l'ile (French adaptation) [5:39]
Madrigal Escrito en Invierno [3:47]
If You Forget Me (English adaptation) [7:35]
Tus Manos [3:57]
El Viento en la Isla [5:11]
Alianza / Sonata (partly English adaptation) [6:35]
Siempre [3:11]
Always (English adaptation) [4:07]
Ausencia (partly French adaptation) [4:07]
El Sueño [3:57]
Oda con un Lamento ]7:36]
The Saddest Poem / Nr. 20 (English adaptation) [7:08]
Ute Lemper (vocals)
Tito Castro and Victor Villena (bandoneon); Freddy Torrealba (charango; speaking voice in Siempre); John Benthal (guitar); Jesse Mills (violin); Dov Scheindlin (viola); Wolfram Kossel (cello); Steve Millhouse (bass); Vana Gierig (piano); Todd Turkisher (percussion)
rec. 2013, Sear Sound, New York City, USA
Full texts with English translations provided
STEINWAY & SONS 30020 [62:50]
With thus CD Ute Lemper the celebrated German chanteuse has released her second recording for the Steinway & Sons. Her first release for them, ‘Paris Days, Berlin Nights’ was much admired. In the Classical Vocal Solo category it became the first Grammy award nomination for the label. In 2012 I reviewed it stating “one gets a strong sense that Lemper is not only performing her songs, she is virtually living them.”
Lemper achieved great success for her musical theatre roles ‘Blue Angel’, ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Chicago’. In the late eighties and early nineties she won universal acclaim for her recordings and live performances of Berlin and Parisian cabaret songs as popularised by Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf. In 2012 I was grateful to have the opportunity of seeing her in concert. Lemper unquestionably had the audience right in the palm of her hand; a rare phenomenon on the stage.
She now turns her attention to composing and singing a song-cycle devoted entirely to Pablo Neruda’s love poetry. Neruda was the pen name (later the official name) of Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto (1904-1973). This Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet wrote in a variety of styles which after the murder of his friend Federico García Lorca in 1936 became mainly social and political. The songs have been written in collaboration with Marcelo Nisinman the Argentinean bandoneon player. Juan Antonio Sanchez is credited with the string arrangements. Most of the twelve songs are sung in Spanish with four in English and two in French adaptations. Lemper is no stranger to the tango having toured her show ‘Ultimo Tango’ a homage to the music of Astor Piazzolla. On this occasion for her instrumental accompaniment she has chosen bandoneon, charango, guitar, violin, cello, double bass, piano and percussion; a typical tango ensemble. These twelve songs a similar tango-saturated sound-world although Lemper does vary the mood. For example we have in French the sunny, sultry and highly attractive opening song ‘La nuit dans l'ile’, in Spanish the highly passionate ‘Tus Manos’ and in English the intense longing of ‘Always’. Perhaps the most interesting song is ‘Siempre’ featuring the Spanish-speaking voice of Freddy Torrealba together with Lemper’s unusual vocal improvisations. I especially enjoyed the Spanish song ‘Oda con un Lamento’ which is basically a tender love-letter in music that gradually builds in intensity and weight.
The assured Lemper is in glorious voice here. She seems to have become even more smoky and sultry in tone. Easily moving from one language to another and producing some sumptuous singing Lemper draws the listener into her remarkable world. The instrumental accompaniment is simply first class and I do love the sound of the traditional bandoneon used here rather than the accordion so often used as an alternative. The engineers have excelled themselves; the sound quality could hardly have been bettered. Although excellently performed and recorded this release perhaps inevitably has limited appeal and will in the main attract Lemper diehards.
Michael Cookson

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