The Roaring Twenties
It is a century ago that World War I swept across the European continent, a massacre of hitherto unheard-of scope and savagery. In the ensuing years, Europe licked its wounds, commemorated its dead and reflected on the events of the war. The industrial revolution, which had offered the promise of prosperity, had instead become the engine for weapon production and implementation, one whose ethical ramifications no one could have predicted.
The United States of America, still a young nation, suffered relatively little. While the country had indeed played a key military role in the war, sacrificing many young American lives, the battlefield was still thousands of miles from home. The economy did not suffer – on the contrary, the US weapons industry had made a substantial contribution and reaped the profits. American households were suddenly afforded luxuries until then they had only dreamt of: automobiles, radios, the first washing machines! Dance halls and cinemas offered entertainment outside the home, and the airwaves were filled with jazz. The ‘Roaring Twenties’ were about to unfold. These developments influenced society as well: racial segregation, still common in many states, was challenged, and women made headway in gaining the right to vote. Newfangled clothes and hairstyles (the ‘bob’, a blunt cut reaching the chin) were popular with women, and dances became more individual and free. Men, to balance the picture, were expected to wear a moustache or beard.
Total time: 01:07:04
Bert van der Wolf
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Bert van der Wolf
Bert van der Wolf, Brendon Heinst
Evangelisch Lutherse Kerk Haarlem, Holland
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|Release Date||June 6, 2015|
This recording presents a fascinating collaboration between the highly-regarded Calefax Reed Quintet and mezzo-soprano Cora Burggraaf. The album features the group’s own arrangements of works by Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Benjamin Britten, and Aaron Copland, as well as other popular pieces of the period.
The Calefax Reed Quintet is a forward thinking group of musicians that arrange and perform music by composers past and present. Dutch mezzo soprano Cora Burggraaf has been the recipient of many prizes including the 2009-2010 ECHO Rising Star Award. She has appeared at many of the world’s greatest opera houses, including La Scala in Milan, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and the Royal Opera House in London (for which she was awarded ‘Most Promising Newcomer of the Year’ by The Observer).
The album opens with “Breezin’ Along with the Breeze” a piece in the Charleston style which was made popular by the singer and actress Josephine Baker. The “Cabaret Songs” are a collaboration between the poet W.H. Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten. The texts are the fruits of Auden’s wild time in Berlin in the early thirties. The celebrated Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) by Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill is an ode to down-and-outs, thieves, thugs, con men and whores of Victorian London. George Gershwin’s trip to Europe and sojourn in Paris had a significant impact on his career. He met Kurt Weill in Berlin and countless Parisian artists. More importantly, however, was his growing awareness of a uniquely American, jazz influenced style. In ‘An American in Paris’ Gershwin sketches the awe-struck impressions of an American ambling through the chaotic Paris of the 1920s.
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