John Keats' letters paint an unforgettably vivid and moving picture of the richly productive but also tragic final years of the poet's life. As he ponders on the nature of the writer's craft, he must first confront his brother's death from tuberculosis and then the imminent prospect of his own, tormented by the fear that he will not live to consummate his relationship with Fanny Brawne.
This general selection also includes many of his finest poems, versions of which often appeared for the first time within the letters themselves. Among them are: "Ode to Melancholy”, "Ode of a Grecian Urn", "Old Meg", "Ode to a Nightingale", "La Belle Dame sans Merci", and "To Autumn".
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John Keats's (1795 - 1821) awareness of his imminent death lends a tragic intensity to this selection of letters and poems. This is enhanced by the fine performance of Samuel West, whose rich, young voice embodies the passion and precision so characteristic of the poet's brilliant and questing mind. The occasional commentary by Matthew Marsh is in deep, slow contrast to West's narrations. Like other Naxos recordings, the piano interludes - in this case, a selection of Mendelssohn's piano works and his "Songs Without Words" - allow the listener reflective moments to digest the material. The whole is thoughtful and conducive to fully appreciating Keats's lyricism.
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