Singer Theo Bleckmann brings songs of the Weimar Era to Herbst Theatre this Saturday night, as part of San Francisco Performances’ PIVOT series. He’s accompanied by the Telegraph Quartet and pianist Dan Tepfer, in a program called ‘Songs of Love and War, Peace and Exile.’ The series kicks off on Thursday night with harpisichordist Mahan Esfahani and violinist Stefan Jackiw; on Friday, it’s Jennifer Koh with jazz composer/performers Vijay Iyer and Tyshawn Sorey; and on Sunday evening, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Jay Campbell play duets for violin and cello.
There’s more information about the concert and series at the San Francisco Performances website.
Bleckmann describes his program this way: “The repertoire of Kurt Weill, Hans Eisler, Paul Dessau. Composers from the Weimar Period, or mostly songs from the Weimar Period, and also from the Second World War, that were written in exile. Some of this repertoire that I’m performing is very well known. But there are other songs that are so unknown and are hardly ever performed. Oftentime these songs are put into the context of theater or cabaret. They’re not treated as concert art songs.” He says he approaches this repertoire rather differently from other performers. “These are songs – certain songs are quite dark, and quite political. And what I was doing with this project was to try to bring some tenderness and some vulnerability to these songs, because as I grew up with these songs, they were often, or most always performed with a sense of loud urgency. That is one way of singing them, and one way of performing them and interpreting this music, but I wanted to see if there was anything more personal and more delicate in these songs that I could excavate.” He wants to make the songs a personal experience for himself and the listener. “I try to sing with as much emotion as I can, but also leave space for the person that’s listening to me to have a space in what I’m doing. So I’m not imposing, or not only giving you what I’m feeling, but there is space to interpret or feel what you want to feel in this music, or what you see in these songs.”