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King Lear (Naxos Audio) Audio CD – Audiobook, Classical

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks; Unabridged edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9789626342442
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626342442
  • ASIN: 9626342447
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.6 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 263,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and was baptised on 26 April 1564. Thought to have been educated at the local grammar school, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he went on to have three children, at the age of eighteen, before moving to London to work in the theatre. Two erotic poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and records of his plays begin to appear in 1594 for Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. Shakespeare's tragic period lasted from around 1600 to 1608, during which period he wrote plays including Hamlet and Othello. The first editions of the sonnets were published in 1609 but evidence suggests that Shakespeare had been writing them for years for a private readership.

Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, by now a wealthy man. He died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623.

(The portrait details: The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. NPG1, © National Portrait Gallery, London)

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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Nov. 2002
Format: Audio CD
If you are looking for a recording of one of the greatest plays ever written or love this play anyway, buy, buy this recording. This production assembles a truly magnificent cast headed by Paul Schofield whose Lear, recorded at around 80, is breath-taking. I don't know of a finer recording of Shakespeare. Lauded by the press, you don't even have to know the text or be 'into' theatre to be drawn into this drama. Harriet Watrer, Alec McCowan, Kenneth Branagh - what a cast! Branach perhaps is a bit irritating as the fool, but that is my only cavil. I love this recording - one to return to again and again. I'm not ashamed to say I wept at the end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By F. Ohare on 14 April 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had already seen the DVD of King Lear but it helped to be able to hear it along with my son's book in order to revise for the A level exams.. He liked it very much and felt it was useful to hear the words loud in order to retain them, as instructed by his teacher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Scofield's second recording after 36 years 28 April 2002
By F. Behrens - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
<King Lear> Is there a need for yet another recording of "King Lear"? If it is a superlative reading, then one would quote "Reason not the need" and accept it for a great addition to a swelling library of complete Shakespeare on recordings. We still have available on Caedmon audio tapes the 1965 "Lear" with Paul Scofield in the title role with Pamela Brown and Rachel Roberts as that particularly nasty pair of sisters, Goneril and Regan. 1988 brought out the BBC Audio Book (Modern Library) with Alec Guiness, Jill Bennett and Eilen Atkins in those roles. In 1994 there was a BBC Radio set with John Gielgud, Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins (again) in those three roles; while a late addition to the Arkangel Complete Shakespeare series gave us Trevor Peacock, Penny Downie and Samantha Bond, Peacock giving a more domestic, less grand reading of the role.
Now Naxos Audiobooks has released on tape and CD yet another version with Paul Scofield again, Harriet Walter (Gonerill, as it is spelled on this set), Sara Kestelman (Regan), Emilia Fox (Cordelia), Peter Blythe (Albany), and Jack Klaff (Cornwall) as the dysfunctional royal family. As the parallel set, we have Alec McCowen (Gloucester), Richard McCabe (Edgar), and Toby Stephens (Edmond).
While Kenneth Branagh played the villainous brother in the Gielgud set, he is assigned the Fool in this production with David Burke (Kent) and Matthew Morgan (Oswald).
The reading in the Caedmon recording is in the grand manner, more poetical than is the most recent; but this Naxos effort seems to move faster, is more dramatic (as should be no surprise) in our sense of the word in that it is more realistic, more "modern" sounding. But I would not dismiss the older set by any means.
I found Scofield less earth-shaking in this production, sounding a little more reasonable and vulnerable than in the earlier one--but after 36 years and under a new director (Howard Sackler in 1965, John Tydeman here), an actor must rethink the role. What I do appreciate is that every word in the storm scene is spoken clearly and not drowned out by the sound effects.
All Drama departments should own both Scofield versions. This Naxos release is available on tape (NA324414) and CD (NA324412). It is also the best buy since Naxos is the supreme budget label.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Lear 9 Mar. 2003
By Michael R. Heyman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Although the liner notes describing portions of Act 4 in the boxed set I received were a little amiss, it would be hard to see how the performance itself could be improved. Paul Scofield is absolutely extraordinary as Lear as is Alec McGowen as Glouster and Kenneth Branagh as the Fool. Five stars isn't enough! It's rare that a story like this, which can become quite complex if one isn't familiar with the action, can literally jump off the recording and present us with visual images all along the way. Every actor deserves the highest praise for his/her performance!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Terrible Sound Mixing--although good voice acting 6 Nov. 2008
By Alfred E. Guy Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I love King Lear and I love Paul Scofield, who voices Lear in this production. I bet it was a dynamite version to see live. But this audio recording suffers from terrible sound mixing. Some people have used the phrase "voices dropping out" to describe the problem, but I'd say simply that they did too little post-production mixing. The volumes are wildly divergent. This is most audible when someone speaks an aside--if you turn the volume up enough to hear this line, the next line spoken at regular volume will rattle your speakers (and eardrums). But it's a problem even in scenes with actors of different vocal styles--some people are way too loud and others very hard to hear. To give this complaint some context, I've never reviewed anything negatively on Amazon before. But this is a production problem--like getting a book printed on cheap paper--not just a matter of taste. They should have fixed this (and still could if they wanted to), and it really deserves a negative rating to warn people off of it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
AS GOOD AS IT GETS but might have been better with the Quarto reading 8 Sept. 2008
By C. Scanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The received text of King Lear, Shakespeare's greatest play for our times, comes as always in various versions and editions. There is the original Quarto version, and a later Folio version. Most modern editions of the play lean towards one or the other, or wisely combine the two. Particularly helpful is the old, faithful The Tragedy Of King Lear (The Yale Shakespeare) done a half century ago by Professor Tucker Brooke, I believe is the name, shortly before his death, which includes all lines from both Folio and Quarto, distinguishing what appears in one but not in the other by the clear use of parentheses or brackets. I find this much more useful than the squiggly band of ants and mites which normally indicate variant readings in the middle of the pages of the current respected critical editions, including the traditional King Lear (Arden Shakespeare).

Amazingly we receive Lear at all, considering its history and the fact that for two hundred years a false and unfortunate and unauthentic "happy" Hollywood ending was imposed upon its productions, as if MacBeth and MacDuff embrace at the end of the Scots tragedy. We are fortunate in our times to find the massive and meticulous scholarship which has gone into the integral restoration of Lear, combining the two versions and smoothing over disagreements. It is amazing in how much the two versions agree, and yet each has a good chunk of play which the other does not, such as the Quarto's mock trial of the fox daughters. Normally now these missing chunks are included with notation.

Not so here. The only shadow upon this otherwise excellent recording is that it presents the Folio alone, as indicated in the comprehensive brochure enclosed, and in the specific endorsement of the The Tragedy of King Lear (The New Cambridge Shakespeare) on the back cover. Thus we lose much in gaining the great Scofield.

And Scofield is truly great, the noted actor's actor, whom other great actors such as O'Toole and Harris would sneak out to watch in action, the actor best known here for A Man for All Seasons (Special Edition). Scofield presented Lear in the theatre for this same director while in his forties; here he is recorded about 2001 in his eighties, voice ever powerful, a finely tuned and a varied instrument, the most precise of the English tongue, here presented in all of its fullness.

The supporting players as well are excellent, though one may as always have quibbles. I find for instance the remarks by Cornwall after the taking of the second eye too casually delivered, especially as he stands mortally wounded. And my personal take on Cordelia has always been against the typical presentation: I see her as quite small in stature, even dwarfish, thus well beloved by Fool and father but less favored in society, but especially with some physical trouble in speech which prevents her from speaking freely in public, but again especially beloved by Fool and father. Rather is she always presented as most noble and regal and physically, verbally, wonderful.

We must also wonder at her being left behind by her fiance, who more wisely might have left things to fall as they must in Britain and return at a later time more easily. We think therefore of Joyce's tale of Eveline, and her urgency in loving her father more than any other, even husband. But these ideas wander from the direct technical consideration of this production.

This three disk set is as good as we can get, with the great Scofield in command. I might wish for a better and more foolish Fool, but then again this is Kenneth Branagh, and who after all could be better. I prefer the elderly Fool seen elsewhere, but that is perhaps another too personal reading.

If only this recording considered the Quarto as well!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
King Lear (Naxos AudioBooks) 9 Nov. 2006
By Phedippides - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This series of Shakespeare's plays is read by artists who have wonderful skills, and you can understand the dialogue better than most stage productions. Frequently Shakespearean stage productions, for time constraints or other reasons typically abridge the complete text. These readings are complete, and can be followed word by word from the written plays. They are the best means to prepare to see a stage production, and can be used as a benchmark for judging performances. Often the directors of contemporary productions make other modifications beyond the text for modern audiences. If you want to hear how the classic version should sound, then this is it.
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