Reviews - What do customers think about King Lear (Naxos AudioBooks)?
King Lear from a Toby Stephens fan's point of view Jul 3, 2008
Having purchased this recording to hear the voice of Toby Stephens as much as to enjoy this classic play, I found the experience totally satisfying in both regards. The other reviews have well covered many aspects of the performances of the main characters. I would like to focus on Toby since this is linked to this site.com's ALL Toby All the Time site and might be useful to other fans. Toby plays Edmund (or Edmond per the liner notes), the bastard son of the Earl of Gloucester, an ally of King Lear. Honestly, Toby is brilliant in this. A perfect part to display all the rich tones in his voice and he make the most of it. He has a soliloquy early in the play plotting against his brother and bemoaning the fact that the accident of his birth leaves him with no inheritance. He has a big section at the end displaying his wonderful range, also. There's swordplay, calling out ( think of that voice that called "Jane, Jane"), whispering, mocking, pleading - lots for Toby lovers to appreciate. I am on my second time through and enjoying it even more. The liner notes are quite helpful to place everybody. (Beware - my copy came with several blank pages including the page that should have had Toby's picture and bio. Fortunately, Naxosaudiobooks has been very responsive and is mailing me a replacement.) This is no substitute for him in all his visual glory but it satisfies by reminding me what a magnificent talent he has to display when given words worthy of it.
King Lear (Naxos AudioBooks) Nov 9, 2006
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.
Lear Mar 9, 2003
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!
Scofield's second recording after 36 years Apr 28, 2002
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.