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Des de Moor
Those Old and Evil Songs
Two centuries of dramatic song in a new musical cabaret
Evil or what?

with
David Harrod
and
Stanley Adler

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ENGLISH CHANSONNIER Des de Moor, described by The Guardian as one of the country’s leading interpreters of the cabaret-chanson tradition, is back with an unusual and provocative brand new show exploring two centuries of dramatic song.

Those Old and Evil Songs sets out to trace what for contemporary English-speaking audiences is largely a hidden history of literate European popular song: sometimes deeply emotional and lyrically poetic, sometimes subversively humorous or bitingly sardonic, often critical and socially and politically aware. With customary disrespect, Des crosses the treasured divisions between musical genres conventionally employed by Anglo-Saxon critics, reaching all the way back to the intimate poetic Lieder of Schubert and Schumann.

The show then fast-forwards to the blossoming of pithy and controversial song in the dark underbelly of inter-war Europe, with songs from the cabarets of Germany and France, including that touchstone of the political cabaret repertoire, Bertolt Brecht. There’s a nod westwards to Broadway, where a hefty European input helped shape the exquisite show songs of Porter and, through them, infiltrated jazz (where, sadly, the words are often ignored). The brilliance of French popular song in the 1950s and 60s is well-represented by Ferré and, of course, Brel. Then there’s The Kinks’ Ray Davies and singer-songwriters Leon Rosselson and Robb Johnson, English-speaking songwriters who have tapped into this deeper vein of song. And the inclusion of The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt, one of the most interesting contemporary US songwriters, demonstrates there’s hope for a good song yet.

Most of the non-English material is performed in exclusive new and accurate translations, and Des is joined by two extremely talented accompanists: Stanley Adler (Mike Westbrook, Arthur Brown, Millenium Dome) on cello and bass and David Harrod (Phil Jeays, Célia), one of London’s leading cabaret accompanists, at the ivories.

The show premiered at The Rosemary Branch in October 2000. Future performance details will appear on the Gigs page.


Information for promoters
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This show is a semi-theatrical production especially suitable for intimate performance spaces. It is available to tour.

Full technical details are available on request.


The Songs
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In alphabetical order (performance order differs)

Chansonette
Words by Joachim Ringelnatz, English words by Agnes Bernelle, music by Michael Dress

La Chanson/It's The Song
Words by Claude Nougaro*, music by Michel Legrand

Les Feuilles Mortes
Words by Jacques Prévert*, music by Joseph Kosma

The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (Der Leiermann)
Words by Wilhelm Müller*, music by Franz Schubert

Icebergs
by Robb Johnson

Jackboot Democrats
by Leon Rosselson

Lili Marleen
Words by Hans Leip*, music by Norbert Schultze

Love For Sale
by Cole Porter

Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin
by Stephin Merritt

Lush Life
by Billy Strayhorn

Madeleine
Words by Jacques Brel*, music by Jacques Brel, Jean Corti and Gérard Jouannest

Mercenaries
by Leon Rosselson

Mister Giorgina
by Léo Ferré*

The Refusnik (Le Déserteur)
Words by Boris Vian, English words by Eric Presland, music by Harold Berg

Scars
Words by Fran Landesman, music by Simon Wallace

Shangri-La
by Ray Davies

Song of the Eighth Elephant (Lied von achten Elefanten)
Words by Bertolt Brecht*, music by Paul Dessau

Those Old and Evil Songs (Die alte, böse Lieder)
Words by Heinrich Heine*, music by Robert Schumann

* English words by Des de Moor


Venue and Ticket Details
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See the Gigs page for details of forthcoming shows.
Biographies
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Stanley Adler, born and conservatoire-trained in the USA, is one of the most innovative cellists around, working on everything from pop sessions to collaborations with Mike and Kate Westbrook, from trad jazz bands to solo performances of blues and Hendrix pieces. Recently he has been working with Arthur Brown and performing regularly at The Millenium Dome.

David Harrod is a specialist in musical cabaret. He's been a regular collaborator with Eric Presland, with whom he's written two full-length musicals, and is now a mainstay of British chansonnier Philip Jeays' band, as well as working with Katrina Rublowska and London-based French chanteuse Célia.

Composer Harold Berg was one of many collaborators with Boris Vian.

Berlin-born singer and actor Agnes Bernelle (1924-99), daughter of Weimar-era impresario Rudolph Bernauer, helped popularise the Brecht/Weill repertoire in 1960s Britain, moving on to revive the genuine cabaret material that inspired it.

Augsburg-born Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was a dramatist, poet and theorist and one of the most influential non-musicians in the history of music.

Singer-songwriter and actor Jacques Brel (1929-78), from Brussels, was one of the leading French-language chansonniers of the 1960s and one of the few to wield an influence on Anglo-Saxon pop song.

Virtuoso accordionist and composer Jean Corti accompanied Jacques Brel in the years 1959-66; he recently chaired the jury at the first Brel festival in Vesoul.

Ray Davies (b1944), from Muswell Hill, London, led The Kinks, one of the most interesting British pop bands of the 1960s, and became one of the godfathers of 1990s Britpop.

German composer and conductor Paul Dessau (1894-1979) became Bertolt Brecht’s third great musical collaborator, working with him at The Berliner Ensemble in the post-war period.

English pianist and composer Michael Dress was Agnes Bernelle’s regular accompanist in the 1960s and helped set a number of cabaret gems for which the original music had been lost.

Singer-songwriter, poet and anarchist Léo Ferré (1916-93) was born in Monaco and became, with Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens, one of the francophone triumvirate of great post-war chansonniers.

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), born in Düsseldorf, was a poet and satirist in the grand tradition of Goethe and Schiller.

Political singer-songwriter Robb Johnson, from Hounslow, draws on the heritage of both British ‘folk’ songwriting and European models to create his own hard-hitting songs.

Pianist, composer and musical director Gérard Jouannest has worked with many of the great names in French song, notably Jacques Brel and Juliette Gréco.

Budapest-born Joseph Kosma (1905-69) made his mark in France in the 1930s as a composer of songs and film themes.

US poet and lyricist Fran Landesman hung out on the New York Beat scene, co-wrote standards like ‘Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most’ and continues to write and perform prolifically.

Parisian Michel Legrand (b1932) is best known for his film scores and the evergreen ‘Windmills of Your Mind’.

Hamburg-born poet Hans Leip (1893-1983) wrote the words to ‘Lili Marleen’ in 1915, during World War I.

Stephin Merritt, based in New York and working as The Magnetic Fields and The 6ths, established himself as one of pop’s most promising songwriters with 1999’s epic 69 Love Songs.

Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827) was a Dessau-based poet and writer of singspiels intended for salon performance.

Singer-songwriter Claude Nougaro (b1929), from Toulouse, continues to produce distinctive fusions of French chanson with jazz and Latin music.

Cole Porter (1893-1964), from Peru, Indiana, was one of the great songwriters of the Golden Age of Broadway.

London-based singer and dramatist Eric Presland is a veteran of British gay theatre and a keen translator and performer of Kurt Weill, Francis Poulenc and Boris Vian.

Poet, screenwriter and children’s author Jacques Prévert (1900-77), from Neuilly-sur-Seine, was one of France’s greatest 20th century literary figures and an associate of Cocteau and Sartre.

Absurdist Joachim Ringelnatz (1883-1934), from Wurzen in Saxony, found fame in Berlin as perhaps the most idiosyncratic of his generation of cabarettists.

Leon Rosselson is a veteran of the British satire boom who has been compared to Georges Brassens; his ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ was a hit for Billy Bragg.

Vienna-born Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was one of the first commercial songwriters and a father of the intimate romantic Lied, writing over 650 songs in his short life.

Norbert Schultze (b1911) set the words of ‘Lili Marleen’ during World War II, creating an indelible tune.

Composer Robert Schumann (1810-56), from Leipzig, turned from instrumental works to song in an extraordinary creative burst during 1840, perhaps out of frustration that his intended marriage to composer and pianist Clara Wieck had been blocked by her family.

Billy Strayhorn (1915-67), from Dayton, Ohio, joined Duke Ellington’s staff as a lyricist on the strength of ‘Lush Life’ (c1938) and stayed for life as collaborator, arranger, composer and sometime pianist.

Singer-songwriter, DJ, jazz critic, author, trumpeter and co-founder of Barclay Records, Paris-born Boris Vian (1920-59) was a frequently controversial maverick of French song.

London-based composer and pianist Simon Wallace has written numerous film and TV scores; his work as Fran Landesman’s current collaborator has seen his songs begin to enter the jazz vocal repertory.