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Brilliant Brecht

November 03, 1986|DON HECKMAN

Legends die hard, but the myth that Lotte Lenya is the only legitimate interpreter of the music of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill was convincingly interred Friday at McCabe's by a brilliant young German singer named Dagmar Krause.

Small, pale and deceptively waif-like, Krause sang an hourlong program of precisely-honed interpretations of Brecht's Kurt Weill and Hans Eisler songs that contrasted dramatically, and convincingly, with the broader, more theatrical versions by Lenya.

Without sacrificing the classic, between-the-wars Angst of the Weill material, Krause invested it with a bristling, contemporary energy, passionate on "Surabaya Johnny," sardonic on the "Moritat" from "Three Penny Opera," disillusioned on "The Alabama Song" and the "Matrosen Tango."

The Eisler songs, inherently more political, emerged as stark, shadowed readings, as gripping and disturbing as Max Beckmann paintings.

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