The music and art of Wiemar Republic-era Germany has long fascinated me. The artists who emerged in that time are some of the most influential ever, whose impacts reverberate through our culture to this day: Berg, Brecht, Weill, Dix, Grosz, Kandinsky, Klee, Beckmann, Isherwood, Mann, Kafka, Lang, von Sternberg, Garbo and Adorno, to name just a few, all hail from this time, most of them situated in what was likely the most interesting city in the world during those years- Berlin.
I've never been to Berlin, thought it's on the top of list of cities I'd like to visit. Not because of what it is now, though I'm sure that's interesting enough, but I want to go and delve into its past- specifically the past of the Wiemar era. In my imagination I think some of magic must still exist somewhere in corners of the city, waiting to be discovered, or uncovered, adn I read things every now and than which keeps this pecluliar hope alive.
Next Saturday night, April 9th, SFJazz is bringing some of that history to the Paramount Theatre in Oakland when they present Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester. If you ever wanted to know what it felt like to sit one of those theaters or clubs, listening to the glorious, elegant music of that era live, here's your chance. Raabe, a classically trained opera singer, has been at this for awhile. He formed the Palast Orchester in 1987 with some fellow art students from Berlin who wanted to recreate the music of the 20's. More than 20 years later, they're still at it, touring worldwide, recording, and preserving the style and music of a unique era.
However, this is no nostalgia act. Rather it's a re-creation of an era, done with dedication and talent. And what better place to do it in than the deco masterpiece of the Paramount Theatre? I've been listening to their live recording from Carnegie Hall, Heute Nacht Oder Nie, and what strikes me as remarkable is the authenticity of the sound. This is exactly what I would have imagined an orchestra to sound like at the time. Given that they mix in novelties from the Wiemar era and our own, it feels distinctly of a time long past but also speaks to this one.
Raabe will be there in white tie and tales, the rest of us can come as we are. It's truly going to be a special evening. There are only nine U.S. dates on this tour- get your tickets now. There are a few videos on Youtube to give you an idea of what this is all about- I thought this one was particularly good. If you want to stay on the side of the allies, SFJazz is also presenting the highly alluring singer Madeleine Peyroux this Friday night at the Palace of Fine Arts.Why not attend both?