DIE DREIGROSCHENOPER [CD] WEILL, K.
This sinuous, dark version of Kurt Weill's ironic morality tale (there's really no hope for anyone sucked into dog-eat-dog Soho, a metaphor for Berlin between the wars), fascinates and disturbs. The overall effect is of a chamber piece, played with controlled vigour rather than the rasping attack of some modern interpretations. As a result and thanks to the subtle playing of the Ensemble Modern, Weill's melancholy, edgy score has rarely sounded so haunting, or at times, delicate. The voices soar above with plaintive beauty, expressing the dreams and nostalgia of characters living off each other by whatever means they can. Max Raabe brilliantly conveys the vulnerability at the heart of the swaggering Macheath, betrayed once too many times by the whores. He is light years from the rocking images created by Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong in their pop versions of "Mack The Knife". Sona MacDonald is a mesmerising Polly Peachum, while erstwhile high priestess of German punk rock, Nina Hagen brings her distinctive gothic snarl to the role of Mrs Peachum. A note for trivia fans: Timna Brauer, an unusually elegant Pirate Jenny, sang for Austria in the 1986 Eurovision Song Contest. Truly, this Threepenny Opera has something for everyone. --Piers Ford