This restoration project is a delight for the theater buff, cultural historian, and acting professional. Speeches from Shakespeare recorded from 1896 to the 1940s, recited by the most notable actors of the day start the program. A miscellaneous collection of theatre and vaudeville follows - notably Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in the former's musical comedy Private Lives; a turn by Laurel and Hardy; and the legendary Sarah Bernhardt. Obviously, some of these performances will seem overblown and dated, but others still possess considerable power. Naxos has spaced its signature classical music bridges to give the ear a rest from the often scratchy recordings, which have been lifted from old discs, wax cylinders, movie sound tracks, and radio broadcasts.
In this remarkable anthology of historical recordings are many of the great artists of the past. Early cylinder recordings of Sir Henry Irving preserve the voice and character of the greatest actor of the Victorian period as well as Ellen Terry, his stage partner for many years. In this program, the changing styles of Shakespeare performance, a fascinating study, are documented with such varied actors as Tree, Gielgud, Thorndike, Olivier, Booth, and Barrymore.
Also in this anthologhy, an entertaining miscellany of melodrama, tragedy, and comedy, including the famous extract of Edith Evans' performance as Lady Bracknell and an unforgettable dialogue between Laurel and Hardy.
"A delight for the theater buff, cultural historian, and acting professional." (AudioFile