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‘Life is a Cabaret!

RNCM Concert Hall, 27 April 2014

RNCM Day of Song: Cabaret!

In this concert , the final event of this year’s RNCM Day of Song, we were entertained with cabaret songs by William Bolcolm, Ben Parry and Schoenberg, together with a selection of songs from The Threepenny Opera and Cabaret itself.

It is curious the way in which cabaret songs can conjure a world and a mood, something which Burlesque, her younger, simpler, albeit sometimes naughtier sister cannot quite manage (though, naturally, there are affinities between the two, as the performance of Fred Ebb’s ‘Mein Herr’ made plain).  With cabaret you’re minded of a big city, its high society and its seedy underbelly sitting side by side.  You’re introduced to characters who move between these milieus, seemingly well-to-do, with great prospects even, yet in truth never that far from penury and/or the prison yard.  There’s anxiety as well as hedonism in cabaret, since illicit (true?) pleasure is always transgressive…  Cabaret has an implicit philosophy, it counts the cost.

I liked two of William Bolcolm’s songs best of all here, his ‘Song of Black Max’ and ‘George’ (did the latter inspire Rod Stewart’s song ‘The Killing of Georgie’, I wonder?), mainly for the reasons given above.  And, yes, we did get to hear a rousing version of ‘The Ballad of Mack the Knife’.

As a sampling of the delights and rewards of cabaret, this concert could hardly have been bettered.

Dawn Upshaw can be heard performing ‘Song of Black Max’ here.

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