Deep in my heart; Fold your wings; The radiance of your eyes; Every bit
of loving in the world; The thought never entered my head; Give me back my heart;
Scene from Act I of Murder in Mayfair; When the gypsy played; The girl
I knew; Shine through my dreams; If you only knew; My dearest dear; The leap
year waltz; Dark music; We'll gather lilacs; I can giove you the starlight;
Waltz of my heart; Keep the home fires burning.
Jeremy Northam's impressive impersonation of Ivor Novello in the film, Gosford
Park, has naturally focussed attention again on the music of Novello.
This new Naxos release follows hard on the heels of a similar album released
by ASV last year (reviewed on this site) as a 50th anniversary (of
his death on March 6th 1951) tribute. Both discs were produced by Peter Dempsey.
He was responsible for the digital transfers and restoration for this Naxos
Alas, when so many Ivor Novello songs are crying out to be covered including
the divine 'Fly Home Little Heart' from King's Rhapsody, this new album
covers too much of the same ground of the ASV release. Indeed, there are exact
duplications: Mary Ellis singing 'Deep in My Heart', 'When the Gypsy Played'
and 'My Dearest Dear' (with Ivor himself accompanying and in a speaking role,
this duplication can readily be forgiven); Trefor Jones rendering of 'Shine
through my Dreams' and Elisabeth Welch singing 'Dark Music'. That is five numbers
out of eighteen, nearly a third of the album, really too much!
Granted there are different interpretations of some Novello favourites as
listed in the heading so one has the opportunity of comparing, for instance,
Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth's 'Deep in My Heart' with the singing of Mary
Ellis and Trefor Jones.
Lest it seems that I am all carp, there are, on the credit side, a number
of numbers that are less familiar and therefore of greater value in this collection.
Peggy Wood enchants in 'Give Me Back Heart' (with the delicious ironic last
line "…you might be wanting it again") from Symphony in Two
Flats which was filmed in 1930. 'The Radiance in Your Eyes' is sung in
the 'stuffed-shirt' drawing room style of the period caught in this 1917 recording,
the earliest in the compilation. 'Every Bit of Loving', is warbled sentimentally,
in 1921, by Frances Alda with the typical accompaniment of the period that sounds
like a scaled down, bottom-heavy town band. Then from 1929, in immeasurably
better sound, we hear Winnie Melville and the 'terribly, terribly' Derek Oldham
(sounding more like Noel Coward than Noel Coward) in 'The Thought Never Entered
My Head'; a real hoot this one! Elisabeth Welch is all of a quiver ("…close
to youoooo…") through 'The Girl I Knew' one of the jewels from Glamorous
Night –nevertheless this is another haunting number appreciated more and
more on successive hearings. Dorothy Dickson with male chorus, effulgent and
sounding like something from an MGM musical, sing 'If You Only Knew' from Crest
of the Wave, one of Ivor's lovely lush waltzes. Gisèle Préville's
slight accent and lilt lifts 'Waltz of My Heart' and 'I Can Give You the Starlight'
both from The Dancing Years - and with the latter we are back
to Jeremy Northam and Gosford Park.
One of the most interesting tracks is an excerpt from Act I of Murder in
Mayfair with Ivor at the piano and in amusing dialogue with Edna Best: "Are
you here for long?""No just two or three days, I shall visit my tailor,
he must think I am dead…"and a discussion about the merits of Fauré's
and Ravel's Pavanes before memories of concerts and kisses.
[Ivor Novello was much loved as composer, playright, actor, producer and matinee-idol;
his songs and shows highly popular in the 1930s and 1940s. It is often forgotten
that he was once a successful film star and was perceived as a likely successor
to Richard Barthelmess or Ramon Navarro. His silent screen appearances included:
The Man Without Desire (1923), The Rat (1925), The Constant
Nymph and The Vortex (both 1928). But it is for his tremendously
successful stage productions that he will be remembered. His first great musical
success came in 1935 with Glamorous Night followed by The Dancing
Years (1939) Perchance to Dream (1945) and King's Rhapsody
(1949 later filmed with Errol Flynn and Anna Neagle).
Despite the duplications with last year's ASV Novello
release, this is a highly recommended nostalgic wallow
See also review by Tony