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Speak Low - Loewe and Weill In Exile


In October 2007, indie-pop chanteuse Masha Qrella (Contriva, Mina, Nmfarner) was asked by Berlin's Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) to put together an evening's performance as part of the "New York-Berlin" celebrations to mark the venue's 50th anniversary. Under the heading Broadway - Cradle of Popular Music, the challenge was to work with and find new approaches to the compositions of Kurt Weill and Frederick Loewe, two giants of Broadway who had their origins in Berlin. Speak Low -- Loewe and Weill In Exile is the live studio recording of these new interpretations of Broadway classics, with Qrella lending her supremely mellow style for a completely new pop take on familiar and well-covered material. Detlef Diederichsen, the curator of the series of events comments, "I wanted to choose a Berlin artist to work on this project who you wouldn't really expect to be involved in something like this -- and who would thus be able to judge Weill and Loewe's output for themselves. I wanted someone who had the technical ability to take on these songs which are sometimes quite sophisticated, particularly compared to today's indie-pop songs. Masha Qrella ... and her musical partners have really succeeded in arranging and playing the Weill/Loewe originals in such a way that you'd think the musicians had just come up with them themselves -- in other words, they have succeeded in making the songs their own! They also avoid the drama and theatricality that almost every other artist so far has obviously felt compelled to employ, and have managed to maintain the laconic, melancholy atmosphere that has pervaded their other albums up to now. A listener who didn't know in advance who wrote this material would probably say that these songs were her own compositions." This is Qrella with a fully-formed band and standards like "September Song," which has almost been covered to death, comes alive again here; and the version of "Speak Low" by the The Four Freshmen is also no longer necessarily the definitive version of the song for the rest of eternity. And these aren't merely just cloying covers by an indie artist trying to legitimize the scope of their talent through cutesy chops. Qrella and her band tastefully and effortlessly makes visible the hidden line that quite possibly has been connecting Broadway and indie-pop all this time.