When Love Speaks


Finally, these three together. And Shakespeare.
And a few other folks, just for good measure. Like Sir John Gielgud. And Jonathan Pryce. And John Hurt. And Annie Lennox.

Contemporary composer Michael Kamen, with the help of Alan Rickman, and an impressive list of voice talent, have created a compact disc recording of over 40 sonnets interspersed with eight musical settings of passages from his sonnets and plays.

Classic fM Magazine
March 2002
Jeremy Nicholas

When Love Speaks Sonnets

Forty-Seven of Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets are read by some distinguished former alumni of RADA, making it the starriest cast ever assembled on disc, from Richard Attenborough and Kenneth Brannagh to Diana Rigg and Juliet Stevenson. And to hear such rich, wondrous language spoken with such dare and love is a treat indeed. Alan Rickman and Peter Barkworth are particularly outstanding and, while four sonnets are sung in eminently forgettable pop settings, the contrasting vocal timbres add to the pleasure of this unique recording.


'When Love Speaks' is something that's been with me four or five years. It started with me when I was 16. I started writing an opera on Othello and I wrote the Willow Song - and I'm very proud of it. Needless to say, Shakespeare is the inspiration for so much work that has gone on in the world for the last few 100 years. I decided that the sonnets were his most memorable love poems and I decided to write one - Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? I was looking for people to sing and I went to Brian Ferry expecting, without question, that he would take forever to make his mind up. But he heard it and, about two hours later, I walked out of his studio with a master.

I asked Annie Lennox if she'd give me something and she came back very excited, because she'd done a song based on one of the poems. And I also wanted Ladysmith Black Mambazo - when I called Des'ree, who also sings on the disc, she said "I'm working with Ladysmith". And I said "God, can you bring them?". Joseph Shabalala and I hit it off right away and I asked him if he would ever consider singing a Shakespeare sonnet. About a month later, he called from South Africa, saying "you know, I don't really like singing English very much". So I called a friend in LA who did a translation of a sonnet into Zulu and that's what Joseph worked on. As far as recruiting the actors on the disc, that's something I didn't have to do. One of my great friends I worked with on Die Hard and Robin Hood is Alan Rickman - he went ahead and recruited all the actors that we see on the album. It was also Alan who suggested we use the material for a benefit album for RADA.

The beauty of all great art is that it expands people's creativity and imagination. The Shakespeare sonnets are delightful - they're each a minute long, they're crafted by a genius and they are very meaningful - the emotions in them speak to us very clearly. When Love Speaks turned out to be a title that Alan Rickman came out with, but it's exactly what the album's about'.

When Love Speaks (Shakespeare's Sonnets) Track Listings

1. Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises - Joseph Fiennes
2. Live with me and be my love - Annie Lennox
3. As an unperfect actor on the stage - John Gielgud
4. My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun - Alan Rickman
5. Why is my verse so barren of new pride - Diana Rigg
6. Who will believe my verse is time to come - Richard Attenborough
7. That you were once unkind befriends me now - Paul Rhys
8. How oft, when thou, my music - Juliet Stevenson
9. When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes - Rufus Wainwright
10. Being your slave, what should I do but tend - Janet McTeer
11. Tired with all these, for restful death I cry - Alan Bates
12. When I consider everything that grows - Marianne Jean-Baptiste
13. Let those who are in favour with their stars - David Warner
14. They that have powere to hurt and will do none - Sian Phillips
15. Those lips that Love's own hand did make - John Hurt
16. Come again sweet love (John Dowland) - John Potter
17. Th'expense of spirit in a waste of shame - Ralph Fiennes
18. Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me - Matthew Rhys
19. I never saw that you did painting need - Imelda Staunton
20. When to the sessions of sweet silent thought - Kenneth Branagh
21. It is thy will thy image should keep open - Fiona Shaw
22. Mine eye and heart are at mortal war - Henry Goodman
23. No more be grieved at that which thou hast done - Keb' Mo'
24. O never say that I was false of heart - Susannah York
25. Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest - Timothy Spall
26. Some glory in their birth, some in their skill - Peter Barkworth
27. How heavy do I journey on the way - Gemma Jones
28. Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea - Jonathan Pryce
29. Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore - Richard Wilson
30. The quality of mercy is not strained - Des'Ree
31. Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said - Tom Courtnay
32. Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind - Zoe Waites
33. Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press - Edward Fox
34. It is for fear to wet a widow's eye - Trevor Eve
35. So it is not with me as with that Muse - Imogen Stubbs
36. Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws - David Harewood
37. The Willow Song - Barbara Bonney
38. When my love swears that she is made of truth - Richard Johnson
39. When I do count the clock that tells the time - Martin Jarvis
40. What potions have I drunk of siren tears - Roger Hammond
41. Not marble nor the gilded monuments - Richard Briers
42. Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye - John Sessions
43. Let me not to the marriage of true minds - Thelma Holt
44. Music to hear, why hearst thou music sadly - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
45. When forty winters shall besiege they brow - Caroline Blakiston
46. No longer mourn for me when I am dead - Peter Bowles
47. Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate - Sylvia Syms
48. Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day - Robert Lindsay
49. Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck - Ioan Gruffud
50. My love is as a fever, longing still - John Hurt
51. The little Love-God lying once asleep - Bohdan Poraj
52. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day - Bryan Ferry
53. Our revels are now ended - Joseph Fiennes

The recording, launched on January 17 at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, was released on February 4, 2003. To maximize revenue on RADA's behalf you can order copies directly from the school:

"The CD itself is packaged within a beautifully designed hardback book containing the featured sonnets - you can buy this from RADA (from 4 February) - please call 020 7928 6010 to place an order by phone - to maximise revenue on RADA's behalf."--RADA

The street address is:
62 - 64 Gower St
London WC1E 6ED
United Kingdom

It is available online at Amazon UK and may be pre-ordered there.

The official website is When Love Speaks, which contains audioclips.

A special live event took place on Sunday, February 10, 2002, at the Old Vic Theatre, to benefit RADA. RADA and EMI Classics launched this CD of Shakespeare's sonnets - both spoken and sung by a unique gathering of acting and musical talent including: Alan Rickman, Richard Attenborough, Fiona Shaw, Annie Lennox and David Stewart, Dave Gilmour, Des'Ree,Robert Lindsay, Tom Courtenay. Michael Kamen played piano.

Lord Attenborough (who is helming the rebuilding of RADA) and Alan Rickman were hosts of the event. While Lord Attenborough declared he was not a "luvvie", and Rickman confessed to a bit of a cold, the audience response and appreciation was enthusiastic. A Reuters article follows.

Shakespeare with love as bard gets music makeover
Hannah Cowdy
Feb 11 (Reuters)

Seventeenth-century drama met 21st century rock on Sunday when a galaxy of stars of stage, screen and song joined up for an early Valentine's celebration of the greatest love poet of them all -- Shakespeare.

From award-winning composer Michael Kamen to pop diva Annie Lennox, musicians set the Elizabethan bard's love songs, sonnets and soliloquies to music as veterans of the British stage performed his works to rapturous applause at London's packed Old Vic theatre.

Sunday's performance marked the release of "When Love Speaks," a CD collaboration between Britain's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and record group EMI Classics, which hopes to introduce Shakespeare to a new audience almost four centuries after the death of the world's most famous playwright.

Organizers said the CD, which features dozens of celebrities from sibling Shakespearean actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes to seventies rock star Bryan Ferry, was shooting up the album charts after last week's release -- proof of the bard's lasting appeal.

Actor Alan Rickman, who played the sinister Dark Arts teacher Professor Snape in "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," worked with Kamen on the recording.

Proceeds will help struggling future stars of British stage and screen.

"Shakespeare is quintessential English," Rickman told reporters after the show.

"Shakespeare is simple and complex at the same time. It's the universal truth," he told Reuters.

Oscar-winning director Richard Attenborough described "When Love Speaks" as "a fascinating marriage of historical literature and contemporary song, which I assure you is the greatest labor of love."

The highlight of the evening was a reunion of pop band Eurythmics' stars Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart.

An elfin, delicate-looking Lennox, in a pale pink skirt and top with black boots, entranced the audience with a powerful rendition of "Live with me and be my love," taken from a poem by Shakespeare's contemporary, Christopher Marlowe.

Other stars performing on Sunday included British singer Des'ree, Shakespearean actor Richard Briers and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.

[Another version of Live with me and be my love from]

[Skirt? Looks like a gown on Annie Lennox, no?--Ed.]


The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

If having a CD of Shakespeare's sonnets as performed by these talents inspires you to further Shax mania, you might have a go at something more one-of-a-kind, though you can't keep it on your bedside table.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford upon-Avon is the charity that cares for the world's Shakespeare heritage, and it invites you to "Adopt A Treasure" from its trove of books, manuscripts, theatre artifacts and memorabilia, furniture, paintings, ceramics and textiles. Donations will create a permanent Conservation Fund to ensure that the treasures are safeguarded for the future.

The first patron of the fund-raiser program was Kenneth Branagh, who adopted one of the two Shakespeare First Folios in the Trust's ownerhsip. You may find out more at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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