Noël Coward: Conversation Piece and Other Musical Plays

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
By 2007, the bulk of Noël Coward's recordings were in the public domain in Europe, where copyright on recordings extends only 50 years, enabling any record label to issue its own unlicensed albums mastered from old vinyl discs. The Gala label here assembles a lengthy three-CD set, running three and three-quarter hours, anchored by the 1951 studio cast recording of Coward's 1934 operetta Conversation Piece made by Columbia Records and released initially as a two-LP box set. The musical was not one of Coward's more successful. He wrote it for the French star Yvonne Printemps, and, set in England in 1811, it told the story of a penniless French nobleman attempting to ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
By 2007, the bulk of Noël Coward's recordings were in the public domain in Europe, where copyright on recordings extends only 50 years, enabling any record label to issue its own unlicensed albums mastered from old vinyl discs. The Gala label here assembles a lengthy three-CD set, running three and three-quarter hours, anchored by the 1951 studio cast recording of Coward's 1934 operetta Conversation Piece made by Columbia Records and released initially as a two-LP box set. The musical was not one of Coward's more successful. He wrote it for the French star Yvonne Printemps, and, set in England in 1811, it told the story of a penniless French nobleman attempting to marry off his ward to a wealthy British marquis, even though she is secretly in love with him the penniless French nobleman, that is. Coward himself took the part of the nobleman in the London production that opened on February 16, 1934, and ran 177 performances. A subsequent Broadway production without him ran 55. The Columbia album is the most complete rendering of the show on record. In fact, it might as well have been a radio play, too, since Coward adapted it to the aural medium, writing explanatory remarks -- in verse, no less -- in between the acted scenes. He recites those remarks himself, and he also again takes the role of the nobleman, speaking in a French accent. And he appropriates to himself a couple of songs originally sung by others; in the stage production, the nobleman did not sing. If Coward doesn't quite dominate this recording, it's because of Metropolitan Opera star Lily Pons, who plays the ward and steals nearly every scene she's in, in addition to singing beautifully, especially the show's standout number, "I'll Follow My Secret Heart." Cathleen Nesbitt and a young Richard Burton neither of whom sing are also impressive. Although there was no formal "original cast" album of Conversation Piece back in 1934, HMV Records had members of the cast cut five singles of the songs and dialogue, and this material follows the Columbia recording on the second disc of this collection, with a younger Coward joined by his stage co-star, Yvonne Printemps. In the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, Coward and, occasionally, original cast members made recordings of the songs from his shows that often were contemporary to their productions, and the rest of the second CD and all of the third CD are taken up with such recordings, including songs featured in Operette, Bitter-Sweet, Cavalcade, London Calling, On with the Dance, This Year of Grace, Cochran's 1931 Revue, Words & Music, and The Lyric Revue. These songs include such Coward standards as "The Stately Homes of England," "Where Are the Songs We Sang?," "I'll See You Again," "If Love Were All," "Zigeuner," "Twentieth Century Blues," "Parisian Pierrot," "Poor Little Rich Girl," "A Room with a View," "Dance, Little Lady," "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," "World Weary," "Mrs. Worthington," and "London Pride." They are usually sung, with his usual aplomb, by Coward himself, although stage stars Fritzi Massary, Peggy Wood, Maisie Gay, and Alice Delysia also perform. Especially on the tracks dating back to the '20s, surface noise from the original vinyl sources is audible.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/25/2008
  • Label: Imports
  • EAN: 8712177050758
  • Catalog Number: 779425
  • Sales rank: 171,287

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Act One. Ladies and Gentlemen (0:46)
  2. 2 Act One. Overture (2:45)
  3. 3 Act One. The scene is laid in Brighton by the sea (1:19)
  4. 4 Act One. Good morning, Rose (3:14)
  5. 5 Act One. A cloud has passed across the sun (0:55)
  6. 6 Act One. Go and dress (0:27)
  7. 7 Act One. You ask me to have a disicrete heart (1:45)
  8. 8 Act One. I'll follow my secret heart (2:16)
  9. 9 Act One. The Marquis of Sheere (3:23)
  10. 10 Act One. It is a very nice day, is it not? (4:07)
  11. 11 Act One. The Regent and his retinue (0:37)
  12. 12 Act One. Regency rakes (3:00)
  13. 13 Act One. Mademoiselle will be with you in a moment (3:05)
  14. 14 Act One. Charming! Charming! Charming! (3:35)
  15. 15 Act One. Soldiers! (1:59)
  16. 16 Act One. The mother and father of dear Lord Sheere (0:44)
  17. 17 Act One. I am the Duchess of Beneden (2:16)
  18. 18 Act One. We British are an island race (2:06)
  19. 19 Act One. Imagine a summer evening if you please (1:47)
  20. 20 Act One. Through the darkening trees comes a lady in green (0:25)
  21. 21 Act One. My dear Julia! (0:59)
  22. 22 Act One. Bows are exchanged (0:14)
  23. 23 Act One. The seventh! (1:41)
  24. 24 Act Two. Once more the house, so modest, so discreet (0:29)
  25. 25 Act Two. The tree is in the garden (2:31)
  26. 26 Act Two. There's a lady downstairs to see you (6:18)
  27. 27 Act Two. Do you think that is wise? (1:27)
  28. 28 Act Two. Julia, Lord Sheere is our only definite proposal so far (1:17)
  29. 29 Act Two. I'll follow my secret heart (0:56)
  30. 30 Act Two. The melody that follows (1:10)
  31. 31 Act Two. Whimsical Fate (0:57)
  32. 32 Act Two. Please try to envisage a social occasion (1:04)
  33. 33 Act Two. What a charming house (3:45)
  34. 34 Act Two. Dear friends (2:34)
  35. 35 Act Two. Thank you, my dear, for being so sweet to me (0:21)
  36. 36 Act Two. C'est assez mensonge (2:54)
  37. 37 Act Two. For the benefit of listeners (0:26)
  38. 38 Act Two. Well - I hope you are satisfied (1:39)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Act Three. The following scene is the follwing day (0:12)
  2. 2 Act Three. My dear Paul, such sentimentality (2:38)
  3. 3 Act Three. And now for a rather charming scene (0:31)
  4. 4 Act Three. What will we speak of? (1:05)
  5. 5 Act Three. Dear Friend (1:47)
  6. 6 Act Three. I hope I am not intruding (2:15)
  7. 7 Act Three. All comedies must come to an end (1:19)
  8. 8 Act One. Now then business Melanie / A cloud has passed across the sun (6:17)
  9. 9 Act One. Regency rakes (2:43)
  10. 10 Act One. Charming! Charming! Charming! (3:29)
  11. 11 Act One. Soldiers (2:35)
  12. 12 Act One. There's always something fishy about the French (2:45)
  13. 13 Act Two. The tree is in the garden (2:49)
  14. 14 Act Two. Melanie, écoutez / Dear Freinds (2:57)
  15. 15 Act Two. Thank you, my dear, for being so sweet to me / C'est assez men (3:30)
  16. 16 Act Three. What will we speak of? / Dear Friend (3:17)
  17. 17 Act One. Countess Mitzi (3:27)
  18. 18 Act One. Dearest love (3:22)
  19. 19 Act One. Gipsy Melody (3:22)
  20. 20 Act One. The stately homes of England (6:30)
  21. 21 Act One. Where are the songs we sung? (3:39)
  22. 22 Act Two. Operette (3:19)
  23. 23 Act One. I'll see you again (4:08)
  24. 24 Act Two. If love were all (3:38)
  25. 25 Act Two. Dear little café (4:03)
  26. 26 Act Three. Zigeuner (3:00)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Lover of my dreams (2:46)
  2. 2 Twentieth Century blues (1:20)
  3. 3 Toast to England (0:38)
  4. 4 Parisian Pierrot (3:48)
  5. 5 There's life in the old girl yet (3:23)
  6. 6 What love means to girls like me (3:32)
  7. 7 Poor little rich girl (3:12)
  8. 8 Poor little rich girl (2:47)
  9. 9 A Room with a View (used in Cochran's revue "This Year of Grace") (3:32)
  10. 10 Dance, Little Lady (used in Cochran's revue "This Year of Grace") (2:45)
  11. 11 Mary Make-Believe (used in Cochran's revue "This Year of Grace") (3:13)
  12. 12 Try To Learn To Love (used in Cochran's revue "This Year of Grace") (3:28)
  13. 13 Lorelei (used in Cochran's revue "This Year of Grace") (3:07)
  14. 14 A Dream of Youth (The Dream Is Over) (3:26)
  15. 15 Half caste woman, song (from Cochran's 1931 Revue) (3:22)
  16. 16 Any Little Fish, song (from Cochran's 1931 Revue) (2:24)
  17. 17 Let's Say Good-bye (used in Cochran's revue "Words And Music") (3:24)
  18. 18 Something To Do With Spring (used in Cochran's revue "Words And Music") (2:30)
  19. 19 The Party's Over Now (used in Cochran's revue "Words And Music") (3:39)
  20. 20 Mad Dogs and Englishmen (used in Cochran's revue "Words And Music") (2:56)
  21. 21 Three white feathers (3:12)
  22. 22 World Weary (used in Cochran's revue "This Year of Grace") (3:02)
  23. 23 Mrs. Worthington (2:03)
  24. 24 London Pride (3:20)
  25. 25 Don't make fun of the festival, song (from The Lyric Revue) (1:40)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Noël Coward Primary Artist, Vocals,
Ray Noble Performing Ensemble
Carroll Gibbons Piano, Conductor
Cathleen Nesbitt
Richard Burton
Lehman Engel Conductor
Yvonne Printemps Vocals,
Clifford Greenwood Conductor
Phoenix Theatre Orchestra Performing Ensemble
His Majesty's Theatre Orchestra Performing Ensemble
Norman Hackforth Piano
Peggy Wood Vocals
Reginald Burston Conductor
Philip Braham Conductor
Benjamin Frankel Conductor
Lily Pons Vocals,
Rex Evans
Dorothy Johnson Vocals,
Doris Hare Vocals
Georges Metaxa Vocals
Maidie Andrews Vocals
Sidney Grammer Vocals
Louis Hayward Vocals,
Moya Nugent Vocals
Heather Thatcher Vocals
Pat Worsley Vocals
Ethel Griffies
New Mayfair Orchestra Performing Ensemble
Eileen Turner
Alice Delysia Vocals
Fritzi Massary Vocals
Norah Howard Vocals
Francis M. Collinson Conductor
Rosalind Nadell Vocals
Ellen Faull
Technical Credits
Noël Coward Librettist, Lyricist
Andrew Palmer Liner Notes
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