Noël Coward

A Room with a View: Complete Recordings, Vol.1

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Noel Coward began making a favorable impression on the London theatergoing public as of late 1924, and in August 1925 he made a couple of attempts to extend his grasp to the recording medium, but HMV Records rejected the results, and the label didn't give him another chance until April 1928, the month after the opening of his revue This Year of Grace, when he was engaged to record four songs from the score for two singles. Those songs, including the title track, begin this first volume of a series devoted to Coward's complete recordings. He returned to the studio in May 1928 for another This Year of Grace song, "Lorelei," and in September 1929 cut his own version of "Zigeuner" from his operetta Bitter-Sweet. A year later, he and Gertrude Lawrence gave record listeners a sense of the quick, witty dialogue and music of his play Private Lives. He was back in January 1931 to perform a pair of songs from Cochran's 1931 Revue, "Half-Caste Woman" and "Any Little Fish," and in October of that year he undertook an ambitious set of medleys from his historical pageant Cavalcade, finishing them off in a subsequent session in May 1932. Those are the recordings that comprise this album. Coward is an enthusiastic and precise performer, even if his voice is thin and limited. He is certainly more of a professional performer than some of his Broadway peers whose home recordings have leaked out over the years, but it's hard to imagine him having a career as a singing performer minus his own words, a point driven home in the "'Cavalcade' Vocal Medley," in which he tackles bits of other people's songs. Few of his more memorable compositions are featured on this first volume, but the recordings nevertheless have historical value.

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