Faust is one of the pillars of Western literature. This classic drama presents the story of the scholar Faust, tempted into a contract with the Devil in return for a life of sensuality and power. Enjoyment rules, until Faust’s emotions are stirred by a meeting with Gretchen, and the tragic outcome brings Part 1 to an end. Part 2, written much later in Goethe’s life, places his eponymous hero in a variety of unexpected circumstances, causing him to reflect on humanity and its attitudes to life and death.
Public Domain (P)2011 Naxos Audiobooks
“Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award: If it’s been a while since you tackled Goethe's Faust like, forever don’t wait a moment longer. John R. Williams's sparkling English translation is delightful, full of wit and delicious rhymes, and would be reason enough to fling yourself at it, but this full-cast production more than doubles the pleasure. The actors play it as if we were all Faust and hell were going to be a lot worse than other people. The performances are marvelous, and the sound effects clever and often gorgeous (the choir!). After this rendering of 'Walpurgisnacht,' you’ll never see Halloween the same again. One might call this Harry Potter for grown-ups, except that the good guys well, I wouldn’t want to give away the ending. What a great theatrical experience.” (AudioFile)
“Goethe's Faust has had a huge impact on both musical culture and the Western legacy at large. So it seems fitting that we mention a rather wonderful dramatic enactment of the work on a new Naxos audiobook. It's abridged, which is a fine thing since a full version would last a veritable eternity. In effect Naxos AudioBooks has done for Faust what some of the classic London recordings of the '60s did for opera. It conceives of the soundstage and special potential of the modern recorded medium and how they can heighten appreciation for the work in ways that the stage or the book format cannot. So this production has very well-conceived sound effects, music, voice alteration and excellent dramatic recitation by the actor-reciters. Listen straight through and you get a vivid experience of the Faust drama in ways you would not get in any other form. The English translation is mellifluous and not stilted, and the recitation is terrific. Anyone who has appreciated the various settings of Faust by Gounod, Berlioz, Schumann, etc., will revel in the full drama enacted in the spirit Goethe intended. Of course this is a long work even in its abridged form. The ideal way to experience it first hand is in this audiobook. It makes what could easily be a bit of an ordeal an exciting and sonorously delightful experience, if you are a person of some patience. Highly recommended.” (Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review)
Unless you're familiar with Faust, before listening to this, I would 1) go to the Naxos Audiobooks website and read about this particular production of Faust.
Part 1 has a clear narrative and the performance sparkles.
Part 2, through no fault of the performers, is difficult to follow if you don't already know the story. I kept thinking I had missed something and kept rewinding. Eventually, I read the study guide posted above so I would have a clue what is going on with the story. The narrative of Part 2 is simply nowhere near as compelling as Part 1.
The performers do a wonderful job. It is simply difficult for someone unfamiliar with Part 2 of Faust to follow along without some outside help.
I'm giving it five stars with reservations, those being that I do not totally understand it yet. I am working on it though. It is a great morality play and a bit of a cautionary tail, and I like that a lot. But there is also a ton of symbolism in it, which I also like, but which I do not fully understand. With the aid of critical analyses, I am learning, though, and will probably reread and re-listen to the story when I get most of that into my head.
The story of Faust is one of a tired and disillusioned old man who, in his deepest darkest thoughts, feels like his life has been such a failure that, when he gets the chance, he sells his soul to the devil in exchange for youth, success, fortune and romance. There is always a dear price tag attached, however, as Faust learns to his horrific consternation.
Sad that we English speakers have to read a translation, but even with that, it is obviously expertly written. I guess foreign speakers feel the same way about Shakespeare, and I hope for their sakes that they have quality translations. Being unable to be anything but ignorant on the subject, I feel that this translation is superior. The beauty of the poetry is breathtaking, and can't help but be favorably compared to Shakespeare. The subject matter is earthy and less than beautiful, yet so relevant, mainly because it is human beings that read this story, and we human types are less than perfect, and often less than beautiful. Our base desires are often selfish, try as we might to rationalize them with "good" motives.
All in all, this is a story I am not finished with yet, and it will probably never be finished with me. At least, not on this earth.
The narrators in this drama are top notch. It was a joy to listen to from that angle.
A lot of my friends are into classic literature and—while this is technically a play—listening to it on audio makes it accessible to experience anytime.
The story is amazing. If you haven't read it and you like stories like Paradise Lost, The Divine Comedy, and Homer's epics, then this is for you.
The performance is absolutely stellar. The performers do a fantastic job of bringing it to life.
It's thought provoking, inspiring, insightful, and beautiful.
They really pulled the beauty out of this story.
Mmm, no. It was much more one of those stories that maintains a consistent amount of inspiration inside throughout.
...and now I understand why. The classic tale about a man's deal with the Devil for untold earthly pleasures had a sorrowful and encompassing first half that seems to tell a complete part of the story, which I really enjoyed.
The second half of the play was not really related to the first. It was divided into little story-acts that didn't always relate to each other and often left me confused. While it was easy to follow the first half and infer what would be happening on stage, it was a lot more difficult to do so with the second. Apparently, Goethe wrote the first part long before the second, and the second was published posthumously. It focuses on different themes and has less of a linear narrative, all of which served only to confuse me as I listened. It doesn't help that many of Faust's trials in the second part involve mythical places and allusions that aren't easily described through dialogue alone. The play does its best with sound effects that make the listening experience more enjoyable, and the actors were brilliant. But I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were only the first part.
I really wanted to enjoy this performance, and my rating has nothing to do with the narrator's skill. I really believe that there are some books that are best read "the old fashioned way," and this is one of them.
The wonderful reading, next would be the great sound effects that didn't sound corny at all.
I don't know quite what to think of Faust. Part 1 was excellent and very thought provoking, but part two is confusing and almost makes the reader think he has switched to a book by a different author, or at least skipped the middle book in a trilogy.
The satanic poodle.... :)
This is a good abridgment of Faust and is very well presented.
It gives the story in a nutshell.
The beautiful performance!
This is the way to really enjoy Faust! Beautifully performed, with a full tapestry of voices and sounds. Well done!
Dramatic, moving, thought provoking
Gretchen Tragedy, Walpurgis Night,
These are veteran actors who provide an excellent reading.
Faust is really best served as poetry. This audible reading provides more than enough to stimulate the listener's imagination.
A few quibbles: It would be nice to be able to search the poem by section. Being one large file makes it a little difficult to move back and forth between selections. However, the pdf included does give the listener a guide to the divisions for the presentation.
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