Show This Week

July 25, 2020

1389.) This week I salute a special, unseen-in-decades program for two reasons: because it serves as tribute to the late, great music producer Hal Willner, whose legacies of music production in the studio and onstage are very, very strong, especially here in NYC; and also because it is sublime. The show in question is an outgrowth of Willner’s “Lost in the Stars” Kurt Weill tribute LP entitled September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill, co-produced by Canadian, Portuguese, and German networks. The show features performances of songs from different periods in Weill’s career, punctuated by historical material about Weill’s career and life. The performers are ideally suited for the numbers they perform: “dark” rockers (Nick Cave, PJ Harvey), an opera diva (Teresa Stratas), a jazz singer (Betty Carter), a torch singer backed w. classical musicians (Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet), NYC legends (Lou Reed, David Johansen), and other surprise guests, including an utterly sublime final number that combines three elements into one scene of low-key magic. The show aired in 1994/5 (in various countries, with the documentary materials presented in different languages) and hasn’t been seen since. (The copy “hidden in plain sight” is unwatchable.)