A masterly new recording by Ralph Fiennes. Four Quartets is the culminating achievement of T. S. Eliot's career as a poet.
While containing some of the most musical and unforgettable passages in 20th-century poetry, its four parts, 'Burnt Norton', 'East Coker', 'The Dry Salvages' and 'Little Gidding', present a rigorous meditation on the spiritual, philosophical and personal themes which preoccupied the author.
It was the way in which a private voice was heard to speak for the concerns of an entire generation, in the midst of war and doubt, that confirmed it as an enduring masterpiece.
©1944 T. S. Eliot (P)2011 Faber & Faber Ltd
"Eliot's own reading of Four Quartets was masterly, but this recording is an elegant tribute." (The Guardian)
T.S. Eliot isn't for everyone, and I suspect he'd be proud of that. Much of 'Four Quartets', however brilliant, is also mired in the sort of intellectual bombast that critics celebrate for its seriousness and technical finesse.
Praise must be given here to Ralph Fiennes, whose delivery does much to revivify the more arid areas of the text. With an almost hypnotic smoothness, he elevates poetic posturing to a point where the listener can't help but be immersed in the shifting landscape. As
'garlic and sapphires in the mud
clot the bedded axletree'
of Eliot's often precise, often deliberate convolutions, Fiennes delivery is as haunting as it is 'fructifying'.
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