MARCH 11

For most Americans, transgressive bistro music of the Weimar Republic is defined by the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht theatrical collaborations and Cabaret, the Broadway/Hollywood pastiche of their work. Singer Ute Lemper’s fascinating, painstakingly researched new CD, Berlin Cabaret Songs, available in both English (translated by Jeremy Lawrence) and original German versions, introduces us to the real thing. This historically illuminating collection, part of London Records’ ambitious “Entartete Musik” series devoted to resurrecting music suppressed by the Third Reich, rediscovers the work of Jewish composers and lyricists performed in German nightclubs between the wars. Most notable of these songsmiths is Friedrich Hollander, responsible for the music and/or lyrics of half the selections in this 18-song program, and subsequently, exiled to Hollywood where he wrote most of Marlene Dietrich’s signature movie songs. By turns cynical, political, plaintive, satirical, and taboo-smashing, Lemper’s repertoire addresses a broad spectrum of themes: corruption (“It’s All a Swindle”), heartbreak (“Peter, Peter”), feminism (“Chuck Out the Men!”), lesbianism (“O Just Suppose”), homosexuality (“The Lavender Song”), androgyny (“Maskulinum-Femininum”), and the rise of Nazism (“Oh, How We Wish That We Were Kids Again”, “Munchhausen”). Backed by England’s enterprising Matrix Ensemble, Lemper draws on her considerable singing and acting skills to render each composition as a self-contained dramatic vignette, a tiny one-act play. Occasionally, she’s too broad (“Sex Appeal”) or excessively arch (“The Smart Set”), but the majority of her interpretations are spot-on, especially the frivolous “L’heure Bleue”, and the poetic, cautionary “The Washed-Up Lover.” She will perform much of this material, along with selections from her earlier Kurt Weill and Dietrich/Edith Piaf CDs, at 8 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $26.50-30. (202) 994-6800. (Joel E. Siegel)