About this Recording
NA443012 - Classic Romance

Classic Romance


What is romance? A glorious sunset, Rachmaninov in full flow, a Renoir chocolate box, a Shakespeare sonnet or the grand sweep of a Russian novel? The answer is all of them—to someone. Love is multi-faceted and changes according to emotional mood. When true, we know it often doesn’t run smooth; and even when it is not true, who can deny the flood of illegitimate passions, however temporary? It is the stuff of humanity, central to mankind from the Bible and the Arthurian triangle to the tempestuousness of Frankie and Johnny.

Boy meets girl every generation, and each generation finds its way of dealing with the thrill, the pleasure and the turmoil. And each one has found it equally irresistible to record those wayward feelings, those reckless moments, those satisfying epiphanies which we call Romantic Love. Not all love is expressed by this form, but it is the bedrock of romance.

Most of this selection of extracts from classic works of poetry and prose come into this category, some more loosely than others, it is true. Further, since writers themselves have a variety of perceptions of what constitutes romance, the extracts are a very diverse collection.

Ever since Adam and Eve ran into difficulties, those travelling the path of love and romance have often found their progress beset with problems. These same problematic situations have fed the imaginations of writers across the centuries; the adversities which they create for their characters providing readers with considerable enjoyment and satisfaction even when, as is often the case, the outcome is sad, perhaps even tragic. Farmer Boldwood’s unrequited love in Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd; Romeo and Juliet’s doomed love, as described by Shakespeare, and poems such as Byron’s When We Two Parted could all be described as writings where sadness is the predominant emotion evoked. Further, Romeo and Juliet, together with couples such as Cathy and Heathcliff, described by Emily Brontë in Wuthering Heights, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Frankie and Johnnie in the poem of the same name are all pairs where their doomed affairs end with the death, sometimes the suicide, of one of them; writing designed to pull at the heart strings of any reader.

Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of happier couples in literature, many of them providing us with delightful and charming episodes of love and romance. Thus when reading The Odyssey we join with Penelope and Odysseus in their happiness when she finally recognises her long lost husband; whilst Swann in Love by Proust provides the reader with enjoyment via Charles Swann’s seduction of Odette, tastefully described through metaphorical reference to her orchid. Longfellow’s Hiawatha and Minnehaha marry, providing romantic fulfilment for both of them and a satisfyingly romantic situation for readers; additionally pleasing since it forges a bond between their two previously antagonistic tribes.

At times writers place their romantic couples in situations where they are in need of a helping hand to reach a happy conclusion to their courtships. Such is the case in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, where the successful pairing of Amelia Osborne and William Dobbin is only achieved through the intervention of Becky Sharp. However, in Virgil’s Aeneid, after the gods have initiated the romance between Dido and Aeneas, their further intervention results in the tragedy of Aeneas’ departure and Dido’s subsequent suicide.

Some interventions in others’ love lives can produce humorous results. In Twelfth Night Shakespeare contrives for Count Orsino’s messenger to woo Olivia so effectively on his master’s behalf, that Olivia loses her heart to the messenger instead; complicated enough, but further complicated by the fact that the messenger is a girl in disguise. Shakespeare also provides us with humour in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, when Oberon’s actions with a love potion result in the delightfully amusing temporary romance between Titania and Bottom, the latter sporting the head of an ass.

Dickens too, provides readers with examples of amusement in romance. The courtship and eventual marriage of Peggotty and Barkis provide some lighthearted episodes in David Copperfield, whilst The Pickwick Papers relate the comical episode in which Mr Pickwick’s landlady Mrs Bardell mistakenly assumes that he is proposing to her.

Thus we see that romance has many facets. However, probably the most honest portrayals of romance are those which show that often love is only achieved after a hard lesson has been learned, such as that described by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice, or at a price, with the participants being required to make some kind of sacrifice. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë best exemplifies the latter and, as a consequence, is often described as the most perfect of all romances.

Notes by Helen Davies


The extracts are taken from the following Naxos AudioBooks recordings

CD 1

The Old Testament – Selections ISBN 9626340916
Read by Philip Madoc

Classic American Poetry ISBN 962634198X
Read by Alibe Parsons

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen abridged ISBN 9626341041
Read by Jenny Agutter

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen unabridged ISBN 9626343567
Read by Emilia Fox

Peter Pan by J M Barrie ISBN 9626341025
Read by Samuel West

Twelfth Night by Shakespeare ISBN 9626341815
Read by Stella Gonet, Lucy Whybrow, Christopher Godwin, Jane Whittenshaw

Emma by Jane Austen abridged ISBN 9626340959
Read by Juliet Stevenson

Emma by Jane Austen unabridged ISBN 9789626343944
Read by Juliet Stevenson

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy ISBN 9626340819

The Odyssey by Homer ISBN 9626340312
Read by Anton Lesser

The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare ISBN 9626340150
Read by Sarah Woodward

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte abridged ISBN 9626340630
Read by Freda Dowie with Ken Drury

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte unabridged ISBN 9626343974
Read by Janet McTeer with David Timson

CD 2

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne ISBN 9626340339
Read by Harry Burton

Love’s Secret ISBN 9626340215
Read by Michael Sheen

Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare ISBN 9626340241
Read by Bill Homewood

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy ISBN 962634136X
Read by Neville Jason

Vanity Fair by W M Thackeray ISBN 9626341203
Read by Jane Lapotaire

Aeneid by Virgil ISBN 9626342781
Read by Geraldine Fitzgerald and Toby Stephens

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare ISBN 9626341505
Read by Warren Mitchell, Sarah Woodward, Ian Hughes, John Moffatt, Peter Kenny, Don McCorkindale

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert ISBN 9626341785
Read by Imogen Stubbs

Hiawatha by Longfellow ISBN 9626343400
Read by William Hootkins

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens abridged ISBN 9626340576
Read by Anton Lesser

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens unabridged ISBN 9626343591
Read by Anton Lesser

CD 3

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot ISBN 9626343710
Read by Sara Kestelman

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens ISBN 9626341661
Read by Anton Lesser

She Walks in Beauty ISBN 9626340215
Read by Michael Sheen

Ulysses by James Joyce abridged ISBN 9626340118
Read by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan

Ulysses by James Joyce unabridged ISBN 9626343095
Read by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan

Henry V by Shakespeare ISBN 9626342056
Read by Samuel West, Cathy Sara

Middlemarch by George Eliot ISBN 9626341963
Read by Carole Boyd

Launcelot and Guenever ISBN 9626340010
Read by Philip Madoc

When We Two Parted ISBN 9626340215
Read by Michael Sheen

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens ISBN 9626341513
Read by Anton Lesser

The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde ISBN 9626341394
Read by Anton Lesser

CD 4

The History of Tom Jones – A Foundling by Henry Fielding ISBN 9626343311
Read by Maurice West

Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare ISBN 9626341254
Read by Michael Sheen & Kate Beckinsale

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo ISBN 9626343826
Read by Bill Homewood

Persuasion by Jane Austen ISBN 9626341076
Read by Juliet Stevenson

La Belle Dame sans Merci ISBN 9626340215
Read by Michael Sheen

Swann in Love by Marcel Proust ISBN 9626340568
Read by Neville Jason

The Owl and the Pussycat ISBN 962634279X

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott ISBN 9626340258
Read by Jonathan Oliver

Perfect Woman ISBN 9626340215
Read by Michael Sheen

Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne ISBN 9626343656
Read by John Moffatt

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte abridged ISBN 962634086X
Read by Emma Fielding

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte unabridged ISBN 9626343575
Read by Amanda Root


The music on this recording is taken from the NAXOS and MARCO POLO catalogues

DANZI Quintet in B flat major Op. 56 No. 1

Michael Thompson Wind Ensemble

DAVID Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor

Ilona Prunyi, piano
Eszter Perényi, violin
Tibor Párkányi, cello

GRIEG Wedding Day at Troldhaugen Op. 65 No. 6

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

HANDEL Harpsichord Suite No. 5 in E major

Alan Cuckston, harpsichord

HUMMEL Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano in A major Op. 78

Lise Daoust, flute
Carmen Picard, piano
Elizabeth Dolin, cello

LAWES Consort Music for Viols, Lutes and Theorbos

Timothy Roberts, organ
Jacob Heringman / David Miller, lute and theorbo
Rose Consort of Viols

MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Anthony Bramall, conductor

MENDELSSOHN Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor Op. 1

Bartholdy Piano Quartet

MENDELSSOHN String Symphony No. 5 in B flat major

Northern Chamber Orchestra
Nicholas Ward, conductor

Music of the Italian Renaissance

Shirley Rumsey, lute

RUBENSTEIN Symphony No. 5 in G minor Op. 107

George Enescu State Philharmonic Orchestra
Horia Andreescu, conductor

SOLER Sonata No. 74 in D major for Harpsichord

Gilbert Rowland, harpsichord

TCHAIKOVSKY Serenade for Strings in C major Op. 48

Vienna Chamber Orchestra
Philippe Entremont, conductor

Music programmed by Sarah Butcher

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