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Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Complete Recordings, Vol. 2

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Künstler: Noel Coward
Komponist: Various
Künstler: Noël Coward


This second volume in Naxos' series of the complete recordings of Noël Coward contains material from six recording sessions held in a three-and-a-quarter-year period between September 1932 and January 1936, running from four songs from the musical Words and Music to three musical segments from the play cycle Tonight at 8:30. Some of Coward's better-known compositions are included, among them "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and "Mrs. Worthington." While this was a period prior to the advent of the original cast recording of a stage show, there are attempts to create something like that. An April 11, 1933, session for Victor Records in New York with Leo Reisman & His Orchestra finds Coward and the band running through at least the choruses of ten numbers, seven of them from his musical Bitter Sweet. (Broken into two parts, the nine-minute medley was released as a special 12" 78-rpm single.) The three Tonight at 8:30 selections, each featuring Gertrude Lawrence, are actually edited versions of the one-act plays themselves, including dialogue. Throughout, Coward sings in his high tenor with a fine sense of his own lyrics, and he even tries the works of others, crooning "Love in Bloom" and "We Were So Young." But it's his own songs in his own voice that are the most impressive. (The tracks were mastered from old 78s, with noise reduction applied, since Naxos is taking advantage of the 50-year copyright limit on recordings in Europe. The result is listenable, though some surface noise remains.) ~ William Ruhlmann