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Jazz - Released May 22, 2020 | Jazzhaus Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 1988 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1996 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1993 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Pop - Released February 13, 1989 | Columbia

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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Ute Lemper has developed a reputation as a successor to Lotte Lenya with the looks of Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich, a northern European chanteuse with a taste for the decadent sound of Weimar Germany; she is arguably the definitive interpreter of Kurt Weill for her generation. Punishing Kiss, her first album devoted primarily to songs by contemporary songwriters, extends her reputation by incorporating the work of artists influenced by Weill. Many listeners not previously familiar with her will be drawn in by the presence of previously unrecorded songs by Elvis Costello (who contributed three selections), Tom Waits (two), and Nick Cave (one). But the primary collaborators on the album are the members of the British group the Divine Comedy, who provide the backing tracks on most of the songs, and three compositions by group members Neil Hannon and Joby Talbot, with Hannon singing duet vocals on three tracks. The sound of Weill -- the early Weill -- pervades the album, starting with the inclusion of his "Tango Ballad" (aka "Zuhälter-Ballade" or "Ballad of Immoral Earnings"), written with Bertolt Brecht, from The Threepenny Opera, a song in which a couple reminisce about the good old days when he was a procurer and she a prostitute. Such a decadent tone continues in Cave and Bruno Pisek's "Little Water Song," sung by a woman who is being drowned by her lover, and Philip Glass and Martin Sherman's "Streets of Berlin," originally written for the film Bent; in Costello's complex tales of romantic dissolution with titles like "Passionate Fight" and "Punishing Kiss" (reminiscent of his work on the Burt Bacharach album Painted from Memory); and in the characteristic Waits songs of romantic low-life types. Among the most impressive selections, however, are the Divine Comedy tracks "The Case Continues," a song about a romantic breakup written as if describing a murder mystery, and "Split," which finds Lemper and Hannon hurling witty insults at each other. From its extensive set of photographs of Lemper in black leather posing in a decaying building to the dramatic arrangements and the singer's powerful, precise vocals, this is highly stylized art music given a pop element by its composers. A daring effort, it deserves more of an audience than it is likely to get, at least at first. (The European edition of the album has a different sequencing and features a different cover. For the Quebecois and French markets, Lemper recorded French versions of "The Case Continues" and "Little Water Song." The Japanese version used the European sequencing and added a bonus track, "Lullaby.") © TiVo
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Pop - Released November 23, 1987 | Columbia

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Pop - Released January 1, 1993 | Universal Music Division Polydor

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Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released March 20, 2012 | Steinway and Sons

Booklet
The title Paris Days, Berlin Nights is a little misleading. One might expect French songs about morning-after regrets and German ones about living cynically hedonistically, but this collection goes way beyond that. It includes songs about war, abandonment, the indifference of time to human suffering, and gritty street life, with music by Piazzolla and Polish-Jewish composer Chava Alberstein in addition to the expected Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, and Jacques Brel. Uniting them all is Lemper's incredible voice and sense of drama, no matter what language. The energy she puts into songs such as Der Graben or Ballade vom Wasserrad is so great, it's hard to believe that no physical harm is done, but she comes right back every time, putting just as much into the next one. She is well supported by the Vogler Quartet and accordionist/clarinetist/pianist Stefan Malzew, all of whom come close to matching Lemper's intensity when needed. Malzew made all the arrangements, and they are very well done. They not only provide interesting, textural accompaniment to the voice, the gestures also support the character and theme of the texts. Malzew even sneaks in little details, such as quoting La Marseillaise in L'Accordéoniste or a sustained, high-pitched note (like what is heard when a grenade falls) in Der Graben. Although the album's title might not fit the contents, Lemper and colleagues do make these culturally diverse songs go together. The concentration of their passion keeps the set as a whole from becoming desperately bleak and gives the music a fascinating presence. © Patsy Morita /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1988 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Ute Lemper, who has devoted much of her recording career to resurrecting German interwar songs, particularly those of Kurt Weill, and who included such Weill successors as Nick Cave and Elvis Costello on her last album, Punishing Kiss, here adds her own name to the songwriting credits while continuing to find ways to explore her favorite music. This is a collection of bleak songs, influenced, one can't help thinking, by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks this immigrant New Yorker mentions in her liner notes. (The album's photographs, meanwhile, are dominated by images of the Brooklyn Bridge, including one shot in which the World Trade Center is visible.) The tempos are slow, the arrangements lushly string-filled, and Lemper, a vocal chameleon, sings in a breathy, breaking voice, beginning with Weill's "September Song." Her own contributions, which can be termed "art songs" in the sense that they dispense with such conventions as choruses or easily hummed melodies, are full of images of despair expressed in a charmingly broken English. No matter how far afield she goes, Lemper is never much removed from Weimar Germany, as "Lena," a song about a haunted Holocaust descendent living in Mexico, shows. Her most conventional original song is the title track, a lovelorn lament. The songs of Jacques Brel and Astor Piazzolla are brought in to expand on the sense of anguish and depression, and at the end Lemper returns to an old favorite, Bertolt Brecht, for "Ballad of Marie Sanders, the Jew's Whore," in which a German woman is excoriated for associating with a Jew. Lemper then closes with her own reflection on Brecht, a comment equally applicable to the troubled world situation of 2002. But One Day... is an artist's telling reflection on her own heritage and her view of the post-9/11 climate. © TiVo
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Classical - Released December 2, 1996 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

"Entartete Musik," of which 18 examples in English adaptation are provided here, includes, in the definition of producer Michael Haas, among other things, "important works lost, destroyed or banned by the political disruptions of the twentieth century," in particular, the Third Reich of Nazi Germany. Specifically, these are cabaret songs of the years of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933), written by such composers as Friedrich Hollaender (who became Frederick Hollander when he followed Marlene Dietrich to Hollywood) and Mischa Spoliansky. They reflect the decadence and unfulfilled hopes of a temporary oasis in German history marked by runaway inflation and agitations of the Left and Right, matters treated in the lyrics. The album contains material that provides the perhaps unrealized source of later re-creations like the score for the Broadway musical Cabaret. Ute Lemper (who has performed extensively in that show) gives bravura readings of songs that treat corruption, homosexuality, and a doomed social idealism with music, provided by the Matrix Ensemble, that recalls Kurt Weill and hot jazz. The looming Nazi era is inescapable in such Hollaender songs as "Oh, How We Wish That We Were Kids Again" and especially "Münchhausen." The latter bears some similarity to the folk song "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream," except that we know what happened in Germany instead of the dream of peace and social justice Hollaender proposes. More than a mere history lesson, Berlin Cabaret Songs reawakens a lost era that engages issues of tolerance, sexual confusion, and political uncertainty that continue to affect listeners. It also contains some extremely funny numbers. Jeremy Lawrence's English lyrics, based on translations by Alan Lareau, Kathleen L. Komar, and Haas, are amazingly deft, retaining the German flavor but singing well in their adoptive language. [There is a version of the album sung in German, in addition to the English.] © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 17, 1995 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Soundtracks - Released June 7, 2005 | DRG Records

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World - Released February 12, 2016 | Steinway and Sons

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Classical - Released August 12, 2014 | Steinway and Sons

Booklet
The German singer Ute Lemper enjoyed a vogue in the early '90s, flamed out, and did not let that bother her in the least. She has continued to expand on her music's basic core of German cabaret song in fascinating ways, but even her fans may not be prepared for this entirely original album featuring texts by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda wrote in various modes, including the surrealist and the explicitly political, but his love poetry is the topic here. The music is by Lemper herself, along with the Argentine bandoneón player and composer Marcelo Nisinman, who has emerged as a flexible translator of tango into other media. They're not exactly full-fledged settings of Neruda's poetry, but instead adaptations of it for a small tango ensemble, which fits extremely well with Neruda's combination of colloquial eroticism and dense, intricate imagery. You get the feeling that if Piazzolla were alive today, he would have wished he had written this. Some of the poems are translated into French or English, apparently to allow Lemper to display her considerable facility with languages, and it's undeniable that this is one of the pleasures of her music-making. It's not that her pronunciation is any great shakes, but she somehow manages to get the expressive essence of each tongue, and she does very well with it. This is undoubtedly an offbeat item, but fans both of Lemper and of tango will enjoy it. © James Manheim /TiVo

Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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London Records' Ute Lemper compilation takes its title from a song she sang in her London appearance in the musical Chicago in 1998; it is followed at the start of the disc by her performance of "Don't Tell Mama," a song from another Kander & Ebb show, Cabaret, that she appeared in 1986, and which she recorded on her debut album for Columbia, Crimes of the Heart, in 1987. The two songs neatly dovetail her work over the 12-year period, not only because they are show tunes by the same songwriters but also because they are both pastiches of interwar music, and Lemper has specialized in actual interwar music in between. After several film songs, the compilation includes seven selections from her two albums of Kurt Weill music, followed by four tracks from Illusions, an album devoted to music associated with Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf. Then there is one contemporary song, drawn from her Michael Nyman Songbook release, and finally four numbers from Berlin Cabaret Songs. The wonder is that she is always so assured on material that makes different kinds of demands on a singer from formal precision to uninhibited projection (not to mention being in three languages, English, German, and French). Lemper makes it all sound easy, and she brings alive musical styles we are used to hearing on scratchy old recordings, if at all. She is very much a singing actress, creating characters to perform the disparate material, some of them distinctly unsavory, from Chicago's deadly Velma Kelly to the narrator of "I'm a Vamp!," who declares, "I bite my men and suck them dry, and then I bake them in a pie." Her lusty enthusiasm for such decadent material is her strongest suit, and this is an excellent pricis of her career so far. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo

Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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London Records' Ute Lemper compilation takes its title from a song she sang in her London appearance in the musical Chicago in 1998; it is followed at the start of the disc by her performance of "Don't Tell Mama," a song from another Kander & Ebb show, Cabaret, that she appeared in 1986, and which she recorded on her debut album for Columbia, Crimes of the Heart, in 1987. The two songs neatly dovetail her work over the 12-year period, not only because they are show tunes by the same songwriters but also because they are both pastiches of interwar music, and Lemper has specialized in actual interwar music in between. After several film songs, the compilation includes seven selections from her two albums of Kurt Weill music, followed by four tracks from Illusions, an album devoted to music associated with Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf. Then there is one contemporary song, drawn from her Michael Nyman Songbook release, and finally four numbers from Berlin Cabaret Songs. The wonder is that she is always so assured on material that makes different kinds of demands on a singer from formal precision to uninhibited projection (not to mention being in three languages, English, German, and French). Lemper makes it all sound easy, and she brings alive musical styles we are used to hearing on scratchy old recordings, if at all. She is very much a singing actress, creating characters to perform the disparate material, some of them distinctly unsavory, from Chicago's deadly Velma Kelly to the narrator of "I'm a Vamp!," who declares, "I bite my men and suck them dry, and then I bake them in a pie." Her lusty enthusiasm for such decadent material is her strongest suit, and this is an excellent pricis of her career so far. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo