German indie-pop chanteuse Masha Qrella creates a quiet storm from Broadway bombast on her excellent tribute to two titans of musical theater.
Broadway songs are generally big, brassy, and bombastic productions with rousing orchestras and full-blown choirs of actors and actresses dancing and prancing across massive stages in full regalia. German indie-pop songstress Masha Qrella (Contriva, Mina, NMfarner), at the behest of Berlin’s House of World Cultures (or Haus der Kulturen der Welt), was commissioned to create a performance of songs by Broadway giants Kurt Weill and Frederick Loewe in conjunction with the theatre’s 50th anniversary celebration as part of its New York-Berlin project. What Qrella crafted was a stirring collection of Weill and Loewe standards stripped of all their fanfare, revealing the pure pop beauty that exists beneath such timeless chestnuts as “September Song” from Weill’s 1938 musical Knickerbocker Holiday, the Four Freshmen’s “Speak Low”, and “Saga for Jenny” from Weill's 1941 collaboration with George Gershwin, Lady in the Dark. Even if you are not much of a “theatre” person, you will easy become enraptured in the gorgeous simplicity of Qrella’s stirring renditions of these songs.