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Ute Lemper
BUT ONE DAY . . .
(DECCA)

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Ute Lemperís extravagant expressionism will surprise those whose acquaintance with the staples of her repertoire ó French chanson, Kurt Weill, Jacques Brel ó is of performances crafted with restraint, grace, or drollery. Yet for her, extravagance works, from extended contralto glissandos to swooping high notes to an almost jazzy swing. Peter Schererís forwardly mixed string arrangements worry her ecstasies, or else they lighten the aggressiveness of her vocals. On her recitative interpretation of Brel tunes ( " Amsterdam " and " Ne me quitte pas " ), Scherer plays the most succinct piano counterpoint or bass, or both, steadying her early on and then, as she simply cannot hold herself back any longer, joining in her increasing agitation.

Two tangos also appear in the set, Astor Piazzollaís classic " Buenos Aires " and a tango-inflected version (with Dixieland overtones) of Hanns Eisler & Bertolt Brechtís " Ballad of Marie Sanders, " a song about a German girl living in Nazi times who becomes, as Brecht calls her, " the Jewís whore. " Framing this bitterly anti-Nazi song as a tango adds an irresistible hate to its meaning, Lemper screaming in anger thatís both rhythmic and sexually furious. As heated as her moments of sexual intimacy get (she almost cuddles up to Weillís " Speak Low " and her own " Little Face " ), when it comes to anger, Lemper absolutely sizzles.

(Ute Lemper performs this Saturday, April 26, at Berklee Performance Center; call 617-931-2787.)

BY MICHAEL FREEDBERG

Issue Date: April 25 - May 1, 2003
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