"NoŽl and Cole" Album, With Variant Covers of Coward and Porter, in Stores Feb. 26; Euan Morton, Barbara Walsh Among Singers
By Kenneth Jones
"Noël and Cole," the new PS Classics studio cast album marrying the wit, sorrow and melody of songwriters Noël Coward and Cole Porter, gets released Feb. 26, offering 22 tracks, including "Mad About the Boy," "I Concentrate On You," "So in Love" and "If Love Were All." Broadway, concert and cabaret artists populate the recording.
The label devoted to the American Songbook and the heritage of theatre music is selling variant covers of the CD package — one featuring American composer-lyricist Porter on the front and British composer-lyricist Coward on the back, and another showing a fronted Coward and back-cover Porter. Customers who purchase through the PS Classics website, psclassics.com, can choose the version they prefer. (PS Classics discs and many other theatre recordings are also available at PlaybillStore.com.)
Playbill.com recently gave its readers an "exclusive listen" of Porter's "Begin the Beguine," sung by Philip Chaffin, newly arranged by David Loud and orchestrated by Jason Carr. Click here to hear it. The album began shipping from the PS Classics website on Feb. 12. The package comes with a 24-page full-color booklet with an essay by Christopher Caggiano and complete lyrics.
Tommy Krasker, co-founder of PS Classics and album producer, told Playbill.com on Jan. 31, "David Loud conceived this wonderful piece where three singers make the case for Porter, and the other three make the case for Coward. Here, Philip Chaffin, Matthew Scott and Elizabeth Stanley take on Porter, while Sara Jean Ford, Euan Morton and Barbara Walsh tackle the Coward songs. And David — and orchestrator Jason Carr — work so many variations on that theme that it's dazzling. Porter songs sung against Coward songs, or back-to-back songs by each composer touching on the same themes. At one point, the three Coward people take on one song from three points of view; later, the three Porter people intertwine three songs into a gorgeous trio about love and loss."
The arranger and orchestrator "eschewed the typical sheet music versions you usually hear, and went for something far more creative and beautiful and distinctive," Krasker said.
PS Classics has expanded its website to permit orders from Europe, Australia and Japan, and intends to expand its reach further in the months to come.
Here's the track listing for "Noël and Cole":
1. Another Op'nin', Another Show/Why Must the Show Go On?
Singer-actor Chaffin is co-founder of PS Classics. His first solo disc, "Where Do I Go From You?," launched the label.
Krasker previously told Playbill.com, "Albums are always evolving — this evolution was wild. David and I originally thought the album was going to be just piano and voice — which is how David had previously presented it — with just an occasional orchestral color here and there. David's piano arrangements were so full, we didn't think we'd want much more. But we did an initial four-hour session in November , and the vocal performances were so dynamic, we realized piano alone didn't do them justice. You hear Elizabeth on 'Make It Another Old-Fashioned' or Philip on 'Begin the Beguine' or Barb on 'Sail Away,' and suddenly you wanted an orchestra to soar the way they did. I immediately thought of Jason, because he can do rich and romantic but he can also do that Broadway razzmatazz, and he's such a pleasure to work with. And not only was he free, but he knew and loved all the material. So now it's a much richer album than we originally envisioned, and I couldn't be more pleased."
Loud had previously told Playill.com, "I was interested in looking at the similarities and contrast in the two men's work. They lived and wrote at roughly the same time, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and both appeared to revel in the sophisticated glow of high society while producing heartbreaking songs that have stood the test of time. I found that by alternating the songs of these two writers, a conversation between the two started to appear. So over the course of the recording, we hear — through song — the two men's ruminations on alcohol, sex, home life, the theatre, and, of course, love and loss."
Founded in 2000, and an eight-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens, Company, A Little Night Music and Sondheim on Sondheim, plus this year's Follies and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through award-winning cast recordings; solo albums by such artists as Maureen McGovern, Victoria Clark, Steven Pasquale, Kate Baldwin, Liz Callaway and Christine Andreas; and restorations of long-lost musicals, including Sweet Bye and Bye, Strike Up the Band 1930 and Kitty's Kisses. Recent releases include Rebecca Luker's solo disc of Jerome Kern songs, "I Got Love"; the Jerome Kern revue The Land Where the Good Songs Go; and Anthony Rapp's one-man show, Without You.
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