I was so transfixed and transported by Rufus Wainwright’s performance of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 (“When In Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes”) in the RSC’s Shakespeare Live show in honor of the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death that the next day I downloaded the whole album, Take All My Loves.
The album offers musical settings and recitations of nine Shakespeare sonnets by Helena Bonham Carter, Fiora Cutler, Peter Eyre, Carrie Fisher, Inge Keller, Siân Phillips, Anna Prohaska, William Shatner, Florence Welch, and others. Some sonnets are performed in spoken form, some in musical arrangements, and some in both (sometimes separately, sometimes in the same selection), and a couple in German. If you’re getting the impression that it is an eclectic mix, that would be putting it mildly.
The track that prompted me to buy the whole thing, Sonnet 29 (“When In Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes”), is my favorite (though Wainwright sang it in the Shakespeare Show and Florence Welch sings it on the recording). Unfortunately, I find most of the other musical settings virtually unlistenable, so I’ve created a playlist of Sonnet 29 and the English recitations, which I enjoy listening to with regularity.
I’m glad I bought it, nonetheless. And happy that I don’t have to listen to it all.