This outstanding historical recording made in 1941 for radio is widely regarded as one of the finest Hamlet performances ever, and one of John Gielgud’s greatest moments. Though he went on to record it for commercial release, nothing matched this recording in the BBC studios, made before the days of editing.
3 CDs + CD-ROM | Running Time: 3h 26m | ISBN: 978-962-634-417-0 | Cat. no.: NA341712 | RRP: £13.99RRP:£13.99 GBPSRP: US $ 22.98RRP:£13.99 GBP
Bernardo – Richard Williams
Francisco – Stanley Groome
Horatio – Sebastian Shaw
Marcellus – Anthony Jacobs
Claudius – Andrew Cruickshank
Voltimand – Hugh Manning
Laertes – Hugh Burden
Polonius – Baliol Holloway
Hamlet – John Gielgud
Gertrude – Marian Spencer
Ophelia – Celia Johnson
Ghost – Leon Quartermaine
Reynaldo – Frank Atkinson
Rosencrantz – Bryan Coleman
Guildenstern – John Chandos
First Player – Hugh Griffith
Player Queen – Denise Bryer
Fortinbras – Andrew Faulds
Captain – Denis McCarthy
Gravediggers – Charles Leno/Preston Lockwood
Priest – Arthur Ridley
Osric – Esme Percy
Gentleman – Alastair Duncan
Speak the Speech...
In a talk given at the 2008 Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, David Timson, director of four Naxos AudioBooks Shakespeare recordings and author of Shakespeare Stories, surveys the changing styles of Shakespeare performance through recordings starting with Henry Irving in the 1890s through to Kenneth Branagh in the twenty-first century.
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There are many recordings of Shakespeare’s most famous play, but now you can enjoy the most legendary of all – the live 1948 broadcast of John Gielgud’s Hamlet. It remains utterly compelling, crystal clear, totally absorbing, with a classic quality that reflects the utter rightness of the interpretation.
There is a delightful unscripted moment in Act V when Esme Percy (playing Osric) can be faintly heard calling admiringly “Oh! Oh! He’s enchanting,” during a brief Gielgud pause.
The third CD can also be put into a computer, where it functions as a CD-ROM with MP3 files, allowing us to listen to a twenty-five minute talk about the play that Gielgud gave on the BBC Third Programme six years later. It provides fascinating insights into the way he approached the role (which he played more than five-hundred times): “I kind of found the part as I went along in a very strange and sincere way which I’d never done in acting. I found for the first time a way to communicate my feeling to the audience because it was so very strong.”
Christina Hardyment, The Times