Richard Burton reads from Hardy and Donne, and performs a wonderful unabridged version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (along with Robert Hardy and John Neville).
©2010 Saland Publishing (P)2010 Saland Publishing
"Most listeners will feel that the tale of the mariner is the highlight of this disc. Certainly it comes over most thrillingly in dramatic form with Richard Burton making a real character of the mariner himself, John Neville, as narrator, painting the scene with exactly the right imaginative sense, and Robert Hardy giving to the wedding guest a tone of bewildered fear. It is all most exciting with plenty of varying pace and mood." (Gramophone Magazine)
1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge ??? Rime of the Ancient Mariner
2. Samuel Taylor Coleridge ??? Frost at Midnight
3. John Donne ??? The Good-morrow
4. Thomas Hardy ??? Afterwards
5. Thomas Hardy ??? In Time of "The Breaking of Nations"
6. Thomas Hardy ??? At Castle Boterel
7. Thomas Hardy ??? The Sunshade
8. John Donne ??? Song: Go and catch a falling star
9. Thomas Hardy ??? At Castorbridge Fair
10. John Donne ??? Song: Sweetest love, I do not go
11. Thomas Hardy ??? The Souls of the Slain
12. John Donne ??? The Sun Rising
Richard Burton's reading on this volume is exceptional. Although the sound quality of the recording is not particularly good, Burton's stage experience, enunciation and naturally sonorous voice put most of the other poetry recordings I've heard to shame.
Some reviewers have complained about a lack of notes ??? or even titles ??? to introduce poems. That is a genuine oversight by the producer. (Hence my inclusion of a complete list of the poems, although I don't have time signatures for them Im afraid.)
The reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which accounts for about half of the recording, is superby dramatised and would make a great bedtime story for precocious children. As for the rest of the material, I happen to like Hardy and Donne (I recommend Burton's collection devoted exclusively to the work of Donne if you too are a fan) and so I am happy to dip into the recording at any point on my iPod and hear a poem I'll enjoy. If you don't rate Hardy and/or Donne then I still feel the collection may be worth it solely for the Coleridge. I can also attest from experience that, purely in terms of voice work, this recording is unsurpassed in the realm of audiobook poetry collections. There aren't many classically trained actors around these days who could declaim the poems the way Burton does ??? maybe Patrick Stewart or Sir Ian McKellen? In terms of Americans, maybe Kelsey Grammer? In fact John Lithgow's pretty good.
In any case, despite production flaws, I recommend this thoroughly to anyone who likes the above mentioned poems, or to anyone who appreciates a beautiful speaking voice delivering verse.
Jamie MIlton Freestone
I was thrilled to listen to Richard Burtons voice. His accent and diction are beautiful. I was however, disappointed that the download did not provide the names of the poets or the poems, as I'd like to know what I'm listening to.
Burton recites the poems just fine, but without stating the titles or crediting the poets' names. One has no idea what poem or from what poet he is reciting. Sometimes it is even difficult to be sure whether he has switched to a new poem or is simply pausing between chapters of the same poem. This is definitely a bad offering.
Burton is fine, but he omitted the title of each poem and neglected to give the poets credit.
None. Who knows what poems were even offered!
This is so bad I would recommend Audible drop it from its selections. I feel that this particular collection was very carelessly produced. Shameful, actually.
I really expected there to be some commentary so you know what you are listening to! Disappointed. Enjoyed the poetry, but didn't learn much and that is what I was hoping for. Won't buy more poetry unless it says it has commentary, so you know the title of the poem an the author before you hear it.
"Could have been perfect"
In my opinion there has never been a voice more suited to the recitation of poetry than the rich melodious voice of Richard Burton. The first half of this collection is his and Robert Hardy's recording of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a stunning masterpiece that sweeps you away in its sails.
My two critical caveats, firstly the recording is veiled, particularly in the standard format, the enhanced version does help. I find it improbable that it is beyond the wit of modern audio engineers to rectify this.
Secondly, not an issue for the poet officianardo, but the remaining of the audio doesn't give any indication as to what poem Burton is reciting, neither is it in the chapter headings, a real shame.
Burton's recitation - 5 stars
Audio presentation - 2-3 stars
Overall - 4, just for Burton's delivery and emotion.
"A splendid meeting of narration and material."
For the increasing numbers who never had an opportunity to see Burton on stage, hearing him read poetry is one way of discovering what all the fuss is about. With one or two exceptions, his film work is mediocre, but in these narrations the depth of his intellect, his passion for words and his magnificent vocal skills give us not only beautiful versions of some wonderful poems, but also a splendid portrait of a great artist in his finest medium. Highly recommended.
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