Tenor Ian Bostridge bids to claim No‰l Coward as a classical composer on this album, assisted by pianist Jeffrey Tate and, on five songs, soprano Sophie Daneman. The songs all date from the 1920s and '30s, and most of them were associated with Coward's musical revues as well as one of his book musicals, BITTER SWEET. There are also independent songs and songs used incidentally in the Coward straight plays CAVALCADE and PRIVATE LIVES. Although Bostridge includes "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," and gives it a lively reading, with Daneman joining in on some background burbling, he isn't much interested in the witty Coward. Rather, the recording has the air of a classical recital, with the singer in tuxedo standing before a grand piano. Coward is not anathema to such an approach, of course. Despite being of common birth and limited education (not to mention being a self-taught musician), he affected an upper class manner consistent with Bostridge's treatment of his music here; in fact, Coward himself recorded these songs in his own tenor and sometimes with similar piano accompaniment.
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