Sunday, August 03, 2003

Shakespeare on CD

All of Shakespeare's plays—unabridged—have been recorded and are now available for purchase.

From today's LA Times calendar section: "To the Last Syllable" by David Gritten.
In this mammoth undertaking, all of Shakespeare's plays have been produced on CDs in their entirety, without a single word of the Bard's being cut. The plays are now available as a boxed set; it is the first time in audio publishing history that one creative team has achieved such a gargantuan task.

How gargantuan? The set consists of 98 CDs, with a total playing time of almost 102 hours. All of the plays were recorded in studios in London, and almost 400 British actors — many of them members of the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Royal National Theatre — were employed. . . .

Listening to a selection of the plays, one is struck by the clarity of the recording and the precise, thoughtful delivery of Shakespeare's verse. Brill has gone to great lengths to encourage his casts to bring out the meaning of the Bard's words. It's also notable that even actors in minor roles are hugely competent.

Another remarkable aspect of these recordings is the music. Brill was not the only talent who stayed around for all the plays; so did composer Dominique Le Gendre, Trinidadian-born, classically trained and a musicologist who studied at conservatories in Paris.
Growing up at boarding school, we listened to some of the older recordings of Shakespeare, as well as all sorts of other records. Wednesday night was "record night" when we gathered in the sitting room of the dorm parents in our pajamas and dressing gowns and listened to a recorded story.

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