Singers: The Welcome Interloper

Lotte Lenya owned Kurt Weill's music long before she became his widow. Her ravished soprano perfectly matched the temper of his Berlin theater songs—tough, bragging, wicked, hopeless—and no one could have done more with Bertolt Brecht's lyrics than a singer whose voice combines the chilling qualities of sober screams and drunken laughter. Even now—years past the peak of her career—Lenya's artistic claim frightens other singers off her turf.

Wicked Wise. It did, that is, until last fall, when Martha Schlamme recorded a full album of Weill's best compositions. The album includes songs from Weill's days with Brecht, as well as...

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