Friday, May 29, 2009

Now in stock from Sepia UK.....

Bitter Sweet - 1958 Studio CastBitter Sweet - 1958 Studio Cast

Bitter Sweet is possibly Noel Coward’s best known work and considered his best by many. Whether it is an operetta, that was what Coward called it; or a musical is open to debate but what we have is a dramatically romantic piece, beautifully crafted and filled with a rich score which introduced such memorable songs like I’ll See You Again, If Love Were All, Dear Little Café, Kiss Me and Zigeuner.

Bitter Sweet opened in London in July 1929 at His Majesty’s theatre where it ran for 697 performances. Peggy Wood and George Metaxa starred. The New York production opened 4 months later with Evelyn Laye in the leading role. The success of the show in London led to a production in French presented in Paris a year later starring Jane Marnac.

The popular numbers were recorded on 78s from the London and Paris productions. Evelyn Laye recorded two songs from the show when she returned to London but as these were recorded in pre LP days fans had to wait until 1958 before the first Bitter Sweet LP was issued in both mono and stereo versions. Although not complete, the eleven tracks offered listeners the opportunity to enjoy the score in an enhanced recording. The studio cast version was headed by Vanessa Lee and Roberto Cardinali and included Rita Williams, Jean Alister, Mary Thomas, Dorothy Dorow, Julia Dawn and John Hauxvell.

This CD release features the stereo recordings from the 1958 LP plus the major hit songs performed by the three leading ladies - Peggy Wood, Evelyn Laye and Jane Marnac - recorded almost 30 years earlier. To complete this revisit to Bitter Sweet Sepia have also included the Master himself singing I’ll See You Again.

Ethel Merman - MemoriesEthel Merman - Memories

Ethel Merman, Queen of Broadway, recorded Memories in 1955 at the height of her vocal powers. The album contained a medley of songs that took the listener on a journey through musical America from the 1890s to the 1920s. On some of the songs, Merman, by utilising the multi-layered recording technique, was given the opportunity to duet and even trio with herself. Vocally she was never better and the recording is marked by the musical characteristics that made Merman a songwriter’s delight - a total respect for the meaning of the songs’ lyrics, musical accuracy and a natural instinct for landing right on top of the orchestration, thus making the album the exciting star turn it was and remains over fifty years later.

Another release for Merman in 1955 was A Musical Autobiography which reviewed her career to date. The 2 LP set drew on previously recorded material from Merman’s shows but it also featured fifteen new recordings with Buddy Cole and his Combo. Those new recordings are also included on this CD release.

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