Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Charles Dickens, Hanns Eisler, Victor Young|
Christmas Carol & Mr Pickwick's Christmas
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Listen to Samples
After years of waiting, this finally gets released on an Ame
albertatamazon | East Point, Georgia USA | 12/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lately, Deutsche Grammophon has been releasing on CD some of the old American Decca mono recordings of the 1940's and '50's. While the original 78-RPM Broadway cast albums of "Oklahoma!", "Carousel", "The King and I" and "Annie Get Your Gun" found their way to CD years ago, some of these Decca recordings have inexplicably been ignored by American CD labels, including Decca itself, and now DGG has taken up the slack and is doing a splendid job.
Their latest is not a classical or popular music release. It is a spoken word album - a very overdue American release of two Charles Dickens classics, "A Christmas Carol" and "Mr. Pickwick's Christmas". Both were previously available on an Australian CD which was never released in the U.S. Each Dickens tale was originally released by American Decca as a single item on 78 RPM before the age of LP's. "Carol" was recorded in October 1941, and released in November of that year, a sobering thought considering the fact that Pearl Harbor was soon to be attacked, ushering the United States into World War II. "Pickwick" followed three years later, in November of 1944. Both were later included on a single 33 1/3 RPM LP, one of the most popular Decca albums ever made, selling well into the late 1960's. The LP version of "A Christmas Carol", however, omitted two characters (the charity collectors) heard in the 78 RPM version, and that moment has not been restored on this CD. (Ferdinand Munier, who played one of them, is erroneously credited as appearing on this album. He does not.) The sound is quite good, especially for recordings made before the age of real hi-fi, though, of course, it is not stereo.
Both stories are beautifully done. In "A Christmas Carol", renowned film actor Ronald Colman stars as Ebenezer Scrooge, and while he would have seemed miscast if he had ever done a film version of the story, he is quite excellent on records, his beautiful voice not only acting the role of Scrooge, but, in a very imaginative touch, narrating the story to the listener in character, as if Scrooge were reminiscing about his misspent life. He makes no attempt to sound "old", but is nonetheless completely convincing - better than Laurence Olivier is in *his* recorded version (and I, an Olivier fan, once never imagined I'd say that).
A further testament to the excellence of this production is that, although it is only twenty minutes or so long, each actor convinces completely in his role, and the story never seems rushed, because director George Wells has known exactly how to edit it. The supporting cast includes few familiar names, although all were noted screen character actors of the period; the most familiar names are Hans Conried (Captain Hook in Disney's animated "Peter Pan") as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Gale Gordon ("The Lucy Show"'s Mr. Mooney) as a *speaking* Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
This "Carol" certainly won't replace Alastair Sim's 1951 film, but it will certainly do on records. (I have not heard Patrick Stewart's one-man version).
The second selection on this CD is a tour-de-force for Dickens enthusiasts and fans of virtuoso acting. It is Charles Laughton doing a one-man reading of the Christmas chapter from "The Pickwick Papers". Unlike "A Christmas Carol", this selection is not really adapted, just abridged. It is Dickens' words all the way through, with musical accompaniment, and no one has ever read Dickens better than Charles Laughton, one of the greatest actors of the twentieth century. Dickens is not boring in his hands. Laughton is delightful as he supplies all the voices, male and female, of the many characters.
Those who like their CD's to play 70 minutes or more may be disappointed with this one; it plays for only 39 minutes. But it is undoubtedly a very worthwhile recording, and it ought to have the same success on CD that it had on LP and 78 RPM years ago."
A. Griffin | New York, NY United States | 04/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I discovered this CD last Christmas and have added it to my Christmas favorites. The Colman 'A Christmas Carol' full-cast radio play is much better than either Laurence Olivier's or Orson Welles'. Furthermore, though it is a monologue, I think the Laughton 'Mr. Pickwick's Christmas' a greater artistic work than the Colman 'A Christmas Carol'. No one could have read this story better than Laughton, one of the 20th-century's greatest actors.
Last year I gave a copy of this CD to a friend who is an old-movie buff, and she was delighted. I shall do likewise next Christmas as no classic movie lover could resist these performances."
Dickens, Laughton & Christmas
Shakespeare | The Maine Woods | 12/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Literary scholars love to tell us folk who love Christmas that the holiday, as we know it, was invented by the imagination of Charles Dickens in his novel, "Pickwick Papers," and his first Christmas novella "A Christmas Carol." Personally I have every recording of "A Christmas Carol" publicly produced, and none produces the magic of Redemption except Alastair Sim's 1951 movie. However, no Christmas was complete in mid-20th Century America without listening to Charles Laughton perform "Mr. Pickwick's Christmas." If you have not heard it, give yourself a treat that will last a lifetime. And the recording here presented has been carefully cleaned by Deutsche Grammophon. You may like the Carol very much; you will love Laughton's Pickwick."