So here is the amazing James Mason reads Browning album that a friend was good enough to lend me. Only three tracks: first side is “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church” and “Andrea del Sarto”, which as I am sure we all agree is the greatest poem of the Victorian period if Childe Roland isn’t; the second side is “Fra Lippo Lippi”.
The Bishop is the best of them I think – he’s just right for it. I’ll listen to Andrea more, but I don’t think the self-doubt is there exactly – tho’ the greys are hard to catch, maybe, when the poem has to be properly articulated. And the boyish world-love of Lippi isn’t quite Mason. But they’re really, really enjoyable readings – he’s such a smart reader - he clearly actually understands what he’s saying, which is not always the case with actors trained in those shakespearean impression-of-thought rhythms.
I mean basically it is James fucking Mason reading Robert Browning poems over some krautrock, and who can naysay when faced with that.
I don’t know why it doesn’t mention the krautrock thing on the cover. I’ll post an example track in a minute.
(That cover is a dark and lively illustration for “The Bishop Orders His Tomb” by Robert Pinart. Committed to stained glass now, if it’s the same man.)