BITTER-SWEET - The New Sadler's Wells Cast
Record Company: TER (F) CDTER2 1160 (two discs: 84 minutes: DDD)


Valerie Masterson, Martin Smith and Rosemary Ashe; New Sadler's Wells Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Michael Reed.
This is ­ almost ­ the best recording one can imagine being made of Noël Coward's 1929 operetta. It has a fine chorus, also effective in their spoken lines, highly polished orchestral playing and a handsome set of new orchestrations from the conductor Michael Reed, captured in opulent sound. Valerie Masterson heads the cast with her clear strong voice heard to thrilling effect from the opening "Call of life" through to "Zigeuner", the Gipsy song in Act 3, on which she lavishes a wide palette of tone colour. Outside the principal numbers, Coward never really managed to put his stamp on the operatic idiom ­ even if a score like Phantom of the Opera is not to everyone's taste, it is not possible to remain indifferent to it as happens in Bitter Sweet's sometimes vague invocations to the past.

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Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001