Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Max Raabe and Palast Orchester Dance Film Music of 1920s|
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Musicals & Performing Arts
First rate: Max Raabe, the Palast Orchester and 32 songs fro
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 08/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Max Raabe may not be everyone's glass of schnapps...still, since founding the Palast Orchester in 1986 as a 24-year-old music student who discovered he loved the popular music of the 1920s and 1930s, especially the songs written during the Weimar Republic, he has gone from success to success in his native Germany. He is a tall, reasonably handsome man with a trained baritone who can manage sustained high notes better than most tenors. This can give a rather odd, noteworthy texture to his singing...just like that of so many male singers of the period. His orchestra has 12 members, all male except for the gorgeous blond violinist. They always dress in formal attire, with Raabe changing from tux and wing collar to, after the intermission, full formal evening wear of white tie and tails. If he and his orchestra look like the classic, high society dance orchestras of the era he obviously loves and respects, it's because he chooses to. Most of the orchestra have been with him from the start.
While Raabe concentrates on the popular songs of the Twenties and Thirties, usually using the original orchestrations, he also writes songs himself and does pop covers of contemporary songs using the old orchestration styles. You can sample his stuff on YouTube. Britney Spears' "Oops, I Did It Again" is especially, ah, noteworthy. In other words, Raabe has a sense of irony and humor...and I suspect he doesn't think much of a lot of contemporary pop songs. So is he an old man of 44, living in a past he never had? Hardly.
In this concert piece, filmed at a packed outdoor amphitheater before 20,000 Berliners, Raabe and his orchestra demonstrate why they are as good as they are. Raabe believes less is more, and he does nothing to dispel the illusion that while he himself is contemporary, what he does comes with a clever blending of respect and humor from the past. He is dry and good-natured, but will use a cocked eyebrow or a glance as often as he'll use words. He is amusing (and brief) in his song introductions, and he notes the composer and lyric writer of each song he sings, as well as the year it was written. The pattern most often then is Raabe fronts the orchestra and sings, then he immediately steps back and leans casually against the grand piano while the orchestra pays the song again, then he steps forward for a reprise...then he steps back, applause, a bow...and he moves on to the next song with a slight smile. You need to watch carefully because quite often the orchestra will be up to something unobtrusive and amusing, but always in character.
For those who already like Raabe and the popular music of that period, or might just now be getting to know him, this DVD is a bargain at the price (and it's not cheap). Even with the applause pared down considerably, the disc runs nearly two hours. There are 32 numbers and Raabe sings each one. The audience loved it. When a downpour occurred for 20 or so minutes, no one left their seats. The songs are mainly from Germany of the period. There are four or five American songs. You'll hear irony, romantic opportunity, rueful experience and joy, even love and tenderness...and seldom much sentimentality.
The DVD has a fine, sharp color transfer. The case includes a 12-page booklet. There are three short extras showing Raabe and the orchestra preparing for concerts in New York, Tokyo and Rome. Unless you understand German, the optional English subtitles are essential."
What More Can I Say ... ?
Lawrence H. Bulk | New Jersey USA | 12/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Max Raabe and Palast Orchester: Dance & Film Music of 1920s is worth every penny charged, and then some.
I cannot add much to the other reviews here (all of which rate this DVD as 5-Star) except to say that, since it arrived, I have watched this show two nights in succession and I can't wait to invite friends over to see it as well. I did not think that such superior entertainers still existed!
Frankly, I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this disc. What a showman! He sings in six languages including Chinese! And what an orchestra! These musicians can make their instruments sound like anything they like (even Chinese instruments!). These people all play several instruments and they play them extremely well. I have a number of records and discs of salon orchestras, but the Palast Orchester is by far the best.
I too hope that more DVDs (and CDs) of Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester will be issued. I'll buy every one.
Update: March 6, 2010
Last night Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester appeared in Philadelphia, PA and my wife and I were there (Merriam Theater, Orchestra Row B, Seats 10 and 12 - really great seats!).
Like many people who live in our area, we first heard about Max Raabe from Jill Pasternak's "Crossover" show on WRTI 90.1 MHz. We heard her initial interview with him back in November 2007 but unfortunately it was broadcast the very day he was appearing in Philadelphia and it was impossible for us to get tickets.
We've been waiting, watching, and hoping he would return to Philadelphia - and he did!
What an entertainer! In addition to being an excellent and versatile singer (he has a very wide range, sings in several languages, and can even sing opera), he is a droll master of ceremonies with a very dry sense of humor (as you can see on this DVD, he rarely smiles on stage). His comments before each number are witty and QUITE risqué (an adult form of humor which, until I saw him, I thought had been lost). As the show on this DVD was from an appearance in Berlin, his announcements are in German (there are subtitles) and the songs are primarily European. In the USA however he speaks in excellent English and his songs are primarily American.
It doesn't matter what the primary "country" focus is - the songs are all from the 1920s and 1930s and ALL are great and wonderful pieces. The art of writing good popular music DOES appear to me to be a lost art, at least at the present time. But Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester brings it all back for our enjoyment. (Even some children in the audience appeared to be astounded and pleased.) He and his orchestra perform some of the most wonderful popular music ever written. Most of the songs on this DVD are different from what we heard last night though some included on it, "Cheek to Cheek" and "You're the Cream in My Coffee," have practically become Max Raabe standards and were performed at the show (to the audience's great pleasure).
The Palast Orchester plays with a precision which is almost unbelievable (there is no leader!). People around us were gasping when they saw many of the members playing two or even three very different instruments: wind players playing brass - the bass violinist playing tuba - and the versatile bass saxophonist playing his very difficult instrument as if it were easy (and they sing too!) - all this has to be seen to be believed (and it CAN be seen on this DVD!).
While waiting for admittance in the lobby (as well as after we were seated), my wife and I spoke to a number of people. None of the people to whom we spoke had actually heard of Max Raabe until Jill Pasternak's re-broadcast of her original 2007 show in January of this year and her newer interview with him broadcast last month. (Two people had read the New York Times announcement of his March 4 New York concert and were able to get last-minute tickets.) All of these people had been intrigued by what they had heard or read and I can tell you that NO ONE was disappointed!
He and his orchestra received three standing ovations, one after the "official" end of the show, another after the first encore, and still another after the second encore. (As far as my wife and I were concerned, they could have played all night!)
After the show was over (and it was the FASTEST two and a half hours I think I have ever lived through!), everybody whom we saw leaving the theater had a smile on his or her face! I'd be willing to bet that, if and when Max Raabe returns to Philadelphia, almost all there last night will be back - and they'll bring friends! (He'll need a larger theater - the Merriam Theater has a capacity of 1872 - as practically every seat was sold.)
In addition to being a fantastic entertainer, Max Raabe is a very gracious gentleman. After the show, we and several other people went backstage where we had the privilege and pleasure of meeting him in person; I myself had the opportunity to speak with him and I can tell you that he is a very nice guy!!!
Until you have the opportunity to see him in person (and even if you have), BUY THIS DVD. It is the next best thing to actually being there and is a great souvenir of great performers. And buy it from Amazon which always has it in stock, ships quickly, and has a very good price. Since we've owned it, my wife and I have watched it eight or nine times now and, so far, we have shown it to three other couples. ALL of these couples loved it and one couple even burst into applause after it was finished. (We also own most of his CDs which, almost needless to say, we also highly recommend.)
I mentioned above that his show went quickly (TOO quickly!) - and this DVD does the same. But, once you own it, you can watch it over and over at your pleasure. I feel confident in stating that you WILL watch it over and over.
Buy it. It is great entertainment and, in my opinion, you'll never regret the purchase."
J. O'Preska | Heidelberg, Germany | 10/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mr. DeRiemer has already written a wonderful and accurate review of this DVD, so I won't repeat his comments. This is an outstanding disc! Exceptional!! I only hope that Herr Raabe and his fantastic "Palast Orchester" will provide us with more Region 0 (worldwide) DVD's to enjoy."
Raabe is Right...
E. D. Deuss | Phoenix, AZ | 01/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one great DVD for those of us who like the stylings of this kind of Orchestra, and which can transport one back to those halcyon days of yesterday in a brand-new venue. It's mostly in German, but one can get subtitles by just hitting the right button -- and the subtitles can only enhance the overall effect. The 5.1 surround is very effective, and the music itself is just perfect, reminescent of Berlin in the late '20s and '30s. (There are a few American songs, and they are sung in English --and very well indeed!)
For anyone who likes to live in the past (as I do -- it's cheaper!) this DVD is a real treasure!! As extras, there are (very small) snippets of the orchestra's trip to other countries (no music there, however)...but a nice additon to a DVD that doesn't really need any additions!"