Nymph Errant

Nymph-ErrantLondon Concert Cast, 1990 (EMI) 5 Stars (5 / 5) Here is a rare find: a lost gem of a musical by Cole Porter that was produced in England but never on Broadway. This star-studded 1990 concert performance of the score was recorded live in London. The music represents Porter at his melodic best, and the lyrics are so sublimely witty that they warrant repeated listening for one to fully grasp the sharpness and comedic effect of his remarkable word play. So much of the album is laugh-out-loud funny that you’ll want to play many of the tracks several times to savor all the jokes. Among the luminaries in the cast are Alexis Smith, Larry Kert, Lisa Kirk, Kaye Ballard, Patrice Munsel, and Patricia Hodge, who offers a pristine rendition of that wonderful Porter paean to life and lust, “Experiment.” Other standout cuts are “The Cocotte,” “Solomon,” the hilarious throwaway number “Sweet Nudity,” and “How Could We Be Wrong?” The ballad “You’re Too Far Away” is lovely, but the most famous song in the score is the comic marathon “The Physician,” sharply performed by Lisa Kirk, who sails through the various choruses with glee and relish. For this performance, the entire score was reorchestrated by Jim Tyler and Michael Gibson; with Donald Pippin and David Firman at the twin pianos, the effect is gloriously authentic. Steven Hill’s vocal direction is impeccable, and the recording culminates in a bouncy choral reprise of “Experiment.” Those searching for a classic show score that’s fresh, naughty, and not over-familiar should seek out this album. — Gerard Alessandrini