Coriolanus is another vehicle for Shakespeare's analysis of political leadership. This play has perhaps never been so relevant during the Brexit negotiations. The political air of the country has never been so thick. With regard to the best recording we stock there is Richard Burton's. In fact the stellar cast of this production all show their talent to good effect. This cast includes the aforementioned Richard Burton, Michael Hordern, Jessica Tandy and Robert Stephens. The other players, predominantly of Welsh origin, support these players beautifully. This production has such a fire burning inside it that it overflows in the great tradition of the Bard's muse.
Love's Labours Lost
Love's Labour's Lost is a comedy that, the case of our selection for Muse of Fire, will entertain and, with the music of the performance, will fascinate. This production is a great example of rareness not being indicative of greatness. The production by Diana Rigg and Prunella Scales is exceptionally rare but lacks the melody and fire of the one we have chosen. Rather surprisingly Derek Jacobi's name is not on the cover of this item but his young talent shines through wonderfully. In the initial scene with Jeremy Brett the tone is set perfectly. When Geraldine McEwan, Ian Richardson with biting whit and a lovely twist at the end this production does everything a work of Muse of Fire should.
Anthony and Cleopatra
Anthony and Cleopatra sees us return to the political works. Though Vivien Leigh's performance is a wonderful thing, it is hard to recommend it too highly as the abridgement is very heavy, cutting around 2 hours from the play. Regarding the other performances on offer we think it only fair to mention that Anthony Quayle's performance is not up to his brilliant work of Julius Ceasar. The production we have chosen is full of talent and holds the pace and drive of the text better than any of the others. Richard Johnson, Irene Worth, Robert Eddison and Ian Holm make the play entertain and fascinate in equal measure. Irene Worth's performance in this play is the very best recording we have heard of her.
The Winter's Tale
Of the productions of The Winter's Tale the choice is clear between the early Gielgud and the later. This complex tale, which doesn't fit well into the standard classifications, gives the actor an opportunity a Lear-like opportunity to show their talent. In the production we have chosen Gielgud's performance, as Leontes, shows him near the height of his powers. Dame Peggy Ashcroft's performance is wonderfully paced with great control. Together with these excellent performances comes one of Robert Hardy's best Shakespeare performances and Alan Bates is also a brilliant supporting player. The Arkangel production, we have it on CD, does not burn quite so hot but shows Gielgud, as Time and the Chorus, giving his special touch.
Finally we come to the height of Shakespeare's comedy. This is one of the most popular plays but, as an out and out comedy, it becomes more of a challenge to find the Muse of Fire. We have a wide range of performances in stock. Rather like the Winter's Tale production's we have a choice between older and newer productions. We at Brainfood Audiobooks have a deep admiration for two of the productions. The "best" production just brims over with talent. Almost any production with Siobhan McKenna, Paul Scofield, Robert Hardy, Venessa Redgrave is duty bound to be extraordinary. In this case it is extraordinarily humorous! Again the pacing of these players gives a faultless touch to the comic timing and entertains the listener in a manner difficult to fault. There is another praiseworthy production in stock. Stella Gonet's work with Gerard Murphy is wonderfully light. Again the comic timing is excellent and we have no doubt that this production will be come a regular listen in what for us has been a sadly under appreciated work of the Bard.
This brings to a conclusion our treatment of the current stock of the recordings of Shakespeare's plays that we have to offer. In the future we may well add and amend these pages as new recordings are published and we do have plans to review the audio productions of Shakespeare's poetry.
We do hope you have enjoyed these reviews and we would like to give an enormous Thank You! to all of our wonderful Customers who have sent feedback, both on the productions themselves and on this piece of work.
Hopefully it has fired many of you to delve into these wonderful works with renewed vigour.
End of Muse of Fire 3
All Shakespeare Performances We Have to Offer
Shakespeare Poetry and Plays
The same can not be said of the poetry and plays. Many of these recordings are over 50 years old and are found mainly on Cassette. So the first major decision required when looking at the works of the Bard is -
Is it worth digging out the cassette player?
The answer is an undoubted YES!
One of our core principles is to offer an opportunity to find old recordings of works, which in many cases never made it to CD. So the next question is -
Are the recordings of some of the best Actors and Actresses of the 50's, 60's and 70's still worth listening to?
If you haven't heard these recordings then you haven't heard the recordings that inspired the current crop of actors who perform these works.If you haven't heard these recordings then the beautiful tones and wonderful audio flexibility developed by these actors over many years of work in Rep, something that has all but died out in the last 20 years, still awaits you.
So, with your CD or cassette player at hand, it is time to choose from the marvelous selection we have to offer.
Wherever you look, you have a treat in store!