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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Compilation:when love speaks’
A selection of Shakespeare’s sonnets
read by (among others): Richard Attenborough; Peter Barkworth; Alan Bates; Kenneth Branagh; Richard Briers; Tom Courtney; Joseph Fiennes; Ralph Fiennes; Edward Fox; John Gielgud; Ion Gruffudd; John Hurt; Richard Johnson; Jonathan Pryce; Alan Rickman; Diana Rigg, Timothy Spall; Imogen Stubbs; Sylvia Syms; David Warner; Richard Wilson and Susannah York.
With musicians: Barbara Bonney; Des’ree; Bryan Ferry; Keb’ Mo’; Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Annie Lennox; John Potter; and Rufus Wainwright
EMI CLASSICS 5 573231 2 [70:07] includes a 56 page case bound book. All rotalties donated to RADA


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The executive producer of this enterprising compilation is film music composer, Michael Kamen. The selection of some of Shakespeare’s best-loved sonnets (and other writings) are read by a glittering array of some of the world’s leading actors. All, except Joseph Fiennes, have passed through RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), and they have all donated their talents in its cause.

All the readings are fine, some outstanding in the power and sensitivity of their delivery, like: John Gielgud reading Sonnet 23, "As an unperfect actor on the stage…" ; Alan Rickman’s ironic "My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…" (Sonnet 130), and John Hurt’s sardonic interpretation of Sonnet 147 "My love is as a fever, longing still … for I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright, who art as black as hell and dark as night." Then there is Alan Bates' dark intoning of Sonnet 66, "Tired with all these for restful death I cry"; and Kenneth Branagh’s quiet yet moving delivery of Sonnet 30, "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past…"

Frequently, there are a few bars of gentle lute music between the readings. There are also eight musical settings, most of these modern or pop in style like Annie Lennox singing an upbeat pop rendering of Christopher Marlowe’s "Live with me and be my love…". Sonnet 29, "When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes" is sung by Rufus Wainwright with an interesting "Tudor" strumming accompaniment. Keb Mo has a modern electronic take on "No more be grieved at which thou hast done…". John Dowland’s "Come again: sweet love doth now invite", is sung much more in the Tudor fashion by John Potter; a lovely setting with an outstanding accompaniment. There is a suitably mournful slightly atonal mock-Tudor setting, by Michael Kamen, of ‘The Willow Song’ from Othello sung by Barbara Bonney. Ladysmith Black Mazambo bring a spiritual approach to "Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly." Brian Ferry’s "Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?" has an appealing if shaky sincerity. Least successful is the less than expressive singing of Des’ree in "The quality of mercy is not strained" from The Merchant of Venice.

Ian Lace


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