I received this 2CD pack as a Christmas gift and found it a thoroughly riveting listen.Thirty-eight tracks of golden verse by,in my opinion,the best poet of the last hundred years.In this,Sir John Betjeman's centenary year,there have been many events celebrating the life and work of this very British poet and foremost visionary of the twentieth-century.
There are five readers on this 2CD pack-Stephen Fry,Derek Jacobi,Susan Jameson,Miriam Margolyes and Samuel West,all diverse voices.
The introduction was written and is read by Andrew Motion,and although a little overlong,holds the listener's interest,describing Betjeman's place in modern literature.It's also a bit over-analysed,but is very kind and admiring in its tone.
Then we come to the poetry.My personal favourites include:"Trebetherick",
read by Sir John,"A Russell Flint",also read by him,"Late-Flowering Lust",read by Derek Jacobi(in my view,the best reader on these CDs,apart,obviously,from Sir John himself),and "Wantage Bells,"with its wonderful rich warm- toned words which send shivers down the spine.
The reason why I haven't rated this work as 5 stars is that I believe that Betjeman's unique poems are incredibly difficult to read,and Sir John himself is really the only person who can read and interpret them.
However,that said,this selection is a sumptuous treat for poetry-lovers
such as myself.My very favourite poem,sad to say,"Ireland With Emily",which I had the good fortune to hear read by Candida Betjeman,the Poet Laureate's daughter,some years ago,has been left off this compilation.
Which is a shame.But please,if you love this poet's work,treat yourself this New Year to this collection.It will warm you all the way through.
This 2 CD set has a lot going for it: an illuminating introduction by Andrew Motion and excellent readers including Betjeman himself, Derek Jacobi and Sam West. The selection is eccentric. I'd have preferred a good amount of "Summoned by Bells" and less of the more sombre, obscure stuff. The music linking the pieces is very irritating. I'm glad I bought the set but I won't be listening to it as much as I hoped.
Both my sister and I have this CD compilation , and we both love it! Andrew Motion's introduction on John Betjamen, far from being too long, is simply fascinating! We thoroughly enjoyed listening to every word of it. A "must have" CD package for anyone who loves Betjamen's poetry, and a great introduction for anyone who doesn't know his work ,or indeed just loves poetry! A great buy!
I loved this. Hearing Sir John Betjeman's gentle voice reading his own words was lovely. And... as a bonus, his poetry rhymes. Now I know rhyming in not IN these days but personally I prefer it. If you like gentle words, from a gentle man, about events in his long life, about places he'd seen, and the impressions those events and places left on him ... and if you like a nostalgic moment now and then... buy this. It's lovely.