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I Can't Praise This Excellent Recording Highly Enough
on 12 September 2000
Stephen Fry's superb readings of the Harry Potter novels have already become contemporary classics: they are far too good to be left for children only. I am delighted that they have been re-issued on cd, as the cassette medium is all-too-fragile and many repeated plays leave the cassettes in an all-too-worn state. CDs are much more durable. And believe me, though these recordings are expensive, they are well worth the money as they will be played over and over again.
Stephen Fry is a highly talented comedian and actor with a very wide range. Without seeming to try too hard, he gives each of Rowling's characters their own voice, which is necessary in a reading of this sort, but the voices he uses are so cleverly chosen and executed that they do far more than merely help us distinguish one character from another. By assigning each character a specific accent he places them in the Great British Class Battleground and with his excellent sense of timing and nuance he accentuates Rowling's satires with his own sly wit. I actually prefer Fry's readings of the Harry Potter novels to the novels themselves, as Fry adds a whole new dimension to the books, grounding them firmly in the debates (squabbles?) of modern British life. An especial joy in his reading of Chamber Of Secrets is his interpretation of the ghastly Gilderoy Lockhart, who becomes almost frighteningly alive and believeable in Fry's hands. I would not be at all surprised to find the Loathsome Lockhart popping up on Start The Week! He'd fit right in...