Noël Coward

The Great Shows

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This delightful compilation is, in many ways, the perfect complement to EMI's four-CD Noël Coward compilation The Master's Voice, assembling the original casts (usually including Coward) from Noël Coward's theater works dating between 1929 and 1950. The range of material is unique, and includes the 1929 operetta Bitter-Sweet, which was Coward's personal favorite among all of his works. But the Franz Lehár-like strains pouring forth from Peggy Wood, Georges Metaxa, and Ivy St. Heller seems a long way from the sounds with which Coward came to be associated. Cavalcade features Coward in a breathtakingly beautiful performance of "Lover of My Dreams" and "Twentieth Century Blues." Conversation Piece featured Coward with Yvonne Printemps, Heather Thatcher, George Sanders, Maya Nugent, and Louis Hayward. Disc Two is devoted entirely to Coward's 1950 show Ace of Clubs, and offers enough diversity and charm within that framework to have carried the release on its own. The sound is surprisingly good on even the earliest material, and the annotation is very thorough.

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