However, he was also a prolific composer of operetta Bitter Sweet and material for revues. A prolific songwriter who wrote both words and music, his best work ranks alongside that of the great American songsmiths Berlin and Porter. While not their equal as a melodist, his lyrics were invariably witty in the best and fullest sense and often captured more emotion than he is given credit for.
Frequently sited as the doyen of all that is flippant and lightweight about the theatre and, consequently, firmly out of fashion for much of the mid-twentieth century he was far from above satirizing its excesses in songs like "Why Must The Show Go On?
The deliberate style and sophistication of his lyrics have sometimes meant that their deeper meanings have gone unappreciated by later audiences accustomed to less subtle statements and more impassioned vocal performances than were fashionable at the time. This new collection from Naxos bears the legend The Complete Recordings: Volume One which should have collectors everywhere licking their lips.
The sound here is excellent, considering the age of the original recordings, although no better than on some other releases of this material. The sleevenotes are limited in scope but informative.
Taking into account the budget cost of the CD, both are much more than adequate. On the Brallorna Nere Igen - Massgrav - Still The Kings hand, Coward undoubtedly developed a more confident and varied vocal style over the years albeit set against a deterioration in vocal quality and, heard back to back, these early recordings all begin to sound a little similar in tone.
Although the pieces have been released before, anyone with a A Room With A View - Norrie Paramor And His Orchestra - The Magnificence Of Noel Coward interest in Coward should acquire the CD for its excerpts of the playwright and his co-star Gertrude Lawrence in Private Lives. The two scenes — part speech, part song — demonstrate as well as anything available the extraordinary chemistry that existed between these two masters of high comedy.
Mark Jennett Jul 7,
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