March 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Audio Book Review

William SHAKESPEARE
Twelfth Night  
With Stella Gonet as Viola and Gerard Murphy as Sir Toby Belch with Jonathan Keeble as Orsino, Lucy Whybrow as Olivia, David Timson as Feste, Malcolm Sinclair as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Christopher Godwin as Malvolio.
  NAXOS 2 CDs NA218112   [2hrs 15 mins approx]


"If music be the food of love, play on…"

"O mistress mine, where are you roaming?"

"What is love? ‘tis not hereafter;
present mirth hath present laughter
What’s to come is still unsure
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure"

"I was adored once too"

"Come away, come away death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid
Fly away, fly away, breath
I am slain by a fair cruel maid."

"Be not afraid of greatness: some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

"Why, this is very midsummer madness"

"I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you"

"When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho the wind and the rain;
A foolish thing was but a toy
For the rain it raineth every day"

’So many memorable quotations from this sublime play of sexual confusions, mistaken identities, cross-dressing, fools in love, and pride brought low. Shakespeare’s sparkling comedy was filmed in 1996 starring Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant, Ben Kingsley, Mel Smith, Toby Stephens and Imogen Stubbs. It received poor notices; it had a limited release, and appears to have sunk without trace. I do not recall it having been screened on British TV. The film was an updated version set in some unspecified, presumably Edwardian period in which the darker more melancholic elements were over-stressed at the expense of the farce.

This Naxos production is on the whole a worthy enterprise. Jonathan Keeble makes a proud but ‘myopic’ Orsino, Stella Gonet shines in her role as Viola delivering her lines with authority, clarity and conviction. A pity the same cannot be said for Lucy Whybrow as Olivia. Gerard Murphy as Sir Toby Belch could have been more animated too. Of the rest of the cast Christopher Goodwin is very good as the haughty Malvolio appearing before his mistress smiling, cross-gartered and clad in yellow stockings, and Malcolm Sinclair is good as the equally put-upon and pathetic Sir Andrew Aguecheek. David Timson shines too, throwing off Feste’s tongue-twisting lines with ease.

David Timson also contributes a scholarly note on "Twelfth Night as a microcosm of Elizabethan England", Perry Keenlyside writes a full description of the development of the play and adds a synopsis. A full illustrated cast list is also included in the booklet and between-the-scenes music is taken from Naxos albums of early English music.

Ian Lace

***(*)

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