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Great Poets of the Romantic Age (Poetry) Audio CD – Audiobook, Classical
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Top customer reviews
The impressively 'rhetorical' readings of Blake are very powerful and bring out Blake's strong prophetic tone and intent.
These readings of Shelley are the first really good ones ever available commercially, except for Gielgud's reading of the Ode To The West Wind. He also gave a very good reading of Shelley's other lyrical masterpiece the 'Ode To A Skylark', 'Lines Written In Dejection' and 'The Cloud' but the BBC never released them.
The 'Ode To The West Wind' should be delivered rhetorically of course, and Gielgud also rightly took that approach even though his age made this too much of an effort to be quite natural.
Like Gielgud's, this reading of the Ode To A Skylark is more rhetorical than the more recent one on Naxos by Bertie(male)Carvel on a CD made up entirely of Shelley. Carvel's is more subtle and subjective, but the two versions contrast and complement each other in useful way.
The readings from Keats are a welcome alternative to some of those on the 2CD Naxos set of Keats poems called 'Realms Of Gold' where they are read by Samuel West. West is a much better reader now as we heard in his very fine 'Faust' on Radio3 recently, but this now fairly old set, first released in 1999, was done too early in his career.
The best readings of Keats are the ones that originally appeared on vinyl in the British Council series of Great English Poetry on the Argo label back in the 60s. These have only recently become available as downloads.
The selections from Byron's Don Juan are very well dramatised and lively, with the help of an uncredited female voice.
Some of the readings of Byron (surprisingly) and Clare have the intimacy and interiority that might have been expected of Keats' Odes which have been done in that sort of way elsewhere. In this way Sheen manages to restrain the runaway rhythm of 'We'll go no more a-roving' with complete success and far better than I've ever heard anyone else achieve.
His Mariner is superbly brought to life with a nautical Welsh accent; Sheen is Welsh of course. This also serves to solve the problem of the difficult to manage rhythm. This must have been just what Coleridge had in his ear, granted that a different regional accent could also have served the same purpose.
This is an essential set to possess for anyone who understands that poetry should be more heard than read. I only regret that it did not include Coleridge's Conversation Poems which I like to hear as often as Keats' and Shelley's Odes. But at least there are Ralph Richardson's unsurpassable recordings now available (at least) as a download.
A radio voice should have variety, excitement, passion, quietude and denouement. Sadly, all of these vital elements are completely lacking here. Some excellent poems ruined. Shame on you Producer Nicolas Soames. This is rubbish. It sounds like an inept 3rd year Drama Student speaking through a crap microphone!
Basiledes..."rhetorical, lyrical enthusiasm and prophetic intent" What on earth are you talking about? In my humble opinion, poetry is like music, ie, there are only 2 kinds 1)Music you like and 2) Music you don't like. In other words, there are good poetry readings and there are bad poetry readings. For me, on this CD, Michael Sheen is not at all on form. He is, however, excellent on the Poets Of The Great War CD.
If you want to hear some decent readings of Blake's work then I suggest you listen to the CD with Michael Maloney, Robert Glenister and Stephen Critchlow...way better than Mr Sheen! As for Keats, I think Sam West does a brilliant job on Realms Of Gold, which, by the way, was recorded in 2006 NOT 1999!
Finally, once again, Shelly's Ode To A Skylark is given wonderful service by Bertie Carvel...better than Michael Sheen's!