Trials and tribulations, temptations and redemption, all these and more are
a constant presence in the beauty of this tale, one of the classics of English
Literature. Naxos have managed to squeeze in both parts of the tale, with
the unfamiliar second part of the narrative being fairly new to me. Edwrad
de Souza is an accomplished and distinguished narrtor, his voice is at once
bold, palpably weak, pitiful and autocratic for such is the variety of character
studies that Bunyan throws to his listener.
As Christian makes his way through forest paths, meets dastardly monsters,
is thrown into prison and suchlike, we are amazed at his fortitude and resolve
to reach the gates of the Celestial City. His companions may be useless such
as Ignorance and Avarice but there is also Faith and Hope, two characters
who benefit Christian immensely. The tale is told with exemplary enunciation
and I particularly enjoyed the episode of the giant in the City of Destruction
where abject despair is turned into heroic endeavor. Bunyan's text is masterly
throughout, puns, comparisons memorable speeches abound, there is simply
an unquestionable resolve of faith that permeates the whole story.
I thought that the Second Part lacks the inspiration of the First, certainly
Christian's entry into the Celestial City is one of the finest episodes in
the whole English canon. There is a certain Englishness about the story with
the hills and vales of the country sticking into mind, indeed the Celestial
City might as well have been a rural country house in the country! As i mentioned
earlier, Edward de Souza is the ideal guide through all this and I can
comfortably say that the production will be extremely difficult to surpass.
Music by Weelkes, Tomkins and other composers of the period add the necessary
colours to what is already a very bright story. Indeed it was all but a dream!