Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester transport us to the Weimar Republic in Germany with music and droll sophistication. In fact, the hidden magic of the phenomenal success of the Raabe’s time traveling band is the sensibility of hopes and dreams that existed before the Nazi era. “When in Berlin all things were open and possible” Raabe said.
The frontman will bring his outfit for the third time to Philadelphia “after a warm up in Carnegie Hall” this week for the premiere of A Night in Berlin. Raabe & Palast are currently embarking on a month-long tour.
Raabe continues to create his own aesthetic, attracting new audiences worldwide. They are so en vogue, they were in Vogue this winter in a photo spread about the arts by Annie Leibovitz. “We’re in Portland airport.” He said in a phone interview last week. But he didn’t know right off which Portland. “You have more than one?… No more questions.” he deadpanned.
“Very curious about this hall we are going to play in Philadelphia, you have wonderful Art Deco theaters here.” Raabe’s muscled twelve-man outfit decked out in bandstand accoutrement and period tuxes will look perfect on the Merriam stage, an old Schubert theater. Adding to the milieu is Raabe’s chemistry with his elegant violinist, Cecilia Crisafulli. Vocally, Raabe echoes the 20s faux falsetto and honeyed baritone, but within that his subtleties explore the music and keep them fresh.
“These are all original arrangements, stock arrangements, of the period, very specific. Very often we only have phonograph records so we have to write down from the record note for note to get the correct arrangements.” Raabe remembered well the last time he was in Philly at the Kimmel Center two years ago with the show that resulted in his fab two disc live recording in Carnegie the same week. The audience wouldn’t let him offstage and after three encores, he came back with the boys in the band and sang a farewell a Capella, and just melted the room. Raabe and Palast continue to go deeper into the period orchestrations from American and German composers, but also forgotten genres of tango salon and authentic Berlin cabaret.