Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Barmy Charm to the Max
From what I'd seen on YouTube, Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester seemed a little barmy. No worries, I like eccentrics. What we got when we entered Koerner Hall (again, what a venue!) was a night of irrepressible charm.
Raabe and some university friends founded the ensemble with an eye to presenting well-known but also much forgotten music of the 20s and 30s. The program contained such hits as Night and Day and a host of German songs that, of course, I had never heard of. The musicians are excellent and, at the mic, Max himself is a natural performer. He doesn't have a great voice, but he knows what to do with it. His patter was very dryly funny, delivered with an incorrigible wink in his thickly accented voice, and a very easily raised left eyebrow (my favourite gesture on a man). As he paused from singing to let another musician take the spotlight, he would retreat to the grand piano, and lean elegantly against it, clad immaculately in full evening dress, in the manner of a German Fred Astaire.
The songs were funny, rollicking, dreamy and moving and I was variously in tears and in laughter all evening. The rest of the audience was also in heaven. Koerner Hall had added another performance the previous night due to popular demand. I know when the Palast Orchester returns that I'll be there.
Here's a lovely little video of a song they did as the first of three encores. We didn't have the dirigible.