New Reviews: July 3, 1999

1999 is proving to be a busy year for German liedermacher Konstantin Wecker. Not one, but two new albums within a very short span of time, not to mention the two he released in 1998 (Brecht and Live 98) are making Wecker one of the most prolific artists in German music today.

Liebeslieder is a collection of many of Wecker's best-known love songs over the last twenty-five odd years of his career. But this is not just a compilation. Wecker re-recorded all of the songs, completely re-doing both the vocals and arrangements. Somewhat toned down from their original versions, these songs like "Wenn Du fort bist," "Fliegen mit dir," and "Liebeslied im alten Stil" are a good complement to the general catalog of Wecker's music, which can be sub-divided into two more categories: heavy-handed political songs and songs about life in general. While Wecker's piano is still at the center of the sound, it is more low-key on this release, sharing audio time with sax, trumpet, and guitar. He breathes new life into older songs like "Was tat man den Mädchen," and re-interprets more recent offering such as "Heid no" in a completely different style. Overall, this is a very pleasant album that can be a gentle introduction to Wecker's music, or a necessary addition to the libraries of fans.

My first thought upon receiving a copy of Es lebte ein Kind auf den Bämen was surprise at Wecker for doing a children's album. Then I thought perhaps it was fitting now that he is a father himself. But what could this possibly sound like? Certainly not like what passes for children's music in North America, with simple arrangements and even simpler lyrics. No, I thought, this would probably be like an "adult" Wecker album, but perhaps his voice would be gentler, not the powerful, rumbling, emotional timbre that makes his vocal style. And the music: the music would still feature his virtuoso piano playing, but the arrangements would be more sparse, the tunes lighter in tone.

Then I decided to stop guessing and listen to the album. Being as my German is really not what it should be, I can't comment too much on the lyrics except to say that the text is written by Jutta Richter (with the exception of "Schaflied"), combining poetry and narration, to which Wecker composed the music, and does most of the vocals, sometimes augmented by a children's choir. Musically, this is a very sophisticated album, drawing heavily on classical children's music by composers such as Wagner and Beethoven.

Related Links:

Wecker's Official Web Site
The "Other Konstantin Wecker Page (English)