The German actress/singer Sylvia Anders is a Bertolt Brecht expert, which she first demonstrated on her 1979 album "Hollywood Elegies".
On this album, titled simply "Bertolt Brecht", she presents songs with Brecht lyrics and music by Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler, as might be expected, but also finds some music actually composed by Brecht. "How many people are aware of the fact that the melody of the ‘Lied der Seeräuber Jenny' or ‘Barbara Song' is originally by Brecht himself?," the unsigned liner notes ask.
The point here is not that the familiar melodies were written by Brecht, not Weill, but that Brecht wrote his own dummy tunes for his lyrics. Anders resurrects those melodies in her version of the song known in English as "Pirate Jenny," and in her version of "Barbara Song," also featured in The Threepenny Opera, she first sings to Brecht's tune, then switches and sings to the Weill music. These rare inclusions are in keeping with her overall approach, which is far less strident than the usual interpretations of Brecht's songs, and far more emotional and vulnerable. Anders' take on "Surabaya-Johnny," for instance, has less bitterness than most singers give it, and more tenderness. This is, thus, a fresh interpretation, and a more personal one than most.
"The whole range of Eisler´s Lied oeuvre from the `Konzertlied´ to `Song´ is overwhelmingly convincing..." Gisela May states that Sylvia Anders´ dynamic and histrionic abilities on this record were "extraordinary".
Sylvia Anders - Bertolt Brecht (Myto Records)
(192 kbps, front cover included)