|Who better to read Tolkien than Tolkien?
While there is not a lot information available on what we can expect to hear on this new Audio CD, we can almost be sure it is based on the historic recording by George Sayer made in August 1952.
Tolkien went to visit George and Moira Sayer where one evening, to entertain his guest, Sayer produced a tape recorder. Tolkien read some poems from The Lord of the Rings, an extract from The Ride of the Rohirrim (Book V, Chapter 5). Some of these records were released in 1975 by Caedmon Records as J.R.R. Tolkien Reads and Sings His The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring and J.R.R. Tolkien Reads His The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers/The Return of the King. Because Tolkien in real life had a very poor speaking voice, Sayer put the microphone real close. The speaking voice on this recording gives the impression that his voice was far stronger then it actually was (1). The creation of this recording can be called historical because it inspired Tolkien to continue his own quest to get Lord of the Rings in print. The result was that even during his lifetime over 3 million copies of copies were sold.
Maybe we also get a part from the private recording of The Homecoming of Beorthnoth Beorhthelm's Son, which Tolkien made on 3 May 1954. Here Tolkien spoke all the voices adn made his own sound effects. This recording has only been released once, namely with other material recorded by Christopher Tolkien, as an audio cassette tape by HarperCollins, in a complimentary edition for the Tolkien Centenary Conference at Oxford in 1992 (2). Maybe we see once again a release of some of this material on this CD.
We can also expect some other performances, like Tolkien reading Namárie, taken from "the Tom Bombadil sessions"; these were made on 15 June 1967 by Caedmon, from which other performances were published in autumn 1967 on the Caedmon album J.R.R.Tolkien Reads Poems and Songs of Middle Earth (Cassette) (3). We can find both 1967 and 1975 Caedmon recordings, together with two selections from The Silmarillion read by Christopher Tolkien on The J.R.R. Tolkien Audio Collection; I suspect this CD to be quit similar.
But maybe after releasing The Children of Hurin, an unpublished work, we can now also see the release of some unpublished audio recordings? We know Tolkien was interviewed in 1964 by Irene Slade for the program Reluctant Olympians from BBC, and informally with a midget tape recorder by Denys Gueroult for the BBC Sound Archives, of which we heard a part in J.R.R. Tolkien: An Audio Portrait of the Author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (4).
In February 1968 there was one more interview in conjunction with the BBC television documentary Tolkien in Oxford, of which also a part has been included in the J.R.R. Tolkien: And Audio Portrait. Maybe some other recordings have been preserved, but we will have to wait and see what this CD will bring us!
Once I know more, be sure that it will be posted here.
|Title: Essential Tolkien CD: The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring
Edition: Abridged edition
Publication Date: 6th of November 2007
Type: Audio CD
Estimate: 1 hour
(1) Christina Scull & Wayne Hammond, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, II, 822-823.
(2) Christina Scull & Wayne Hammond, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, II, 823.
(3) Wayne Hammond, Tolkien A Descriptive Bibliography, p.314
(4) Christina Scull & Wayne Hammond, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, II, 824.
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