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Gardiner's brilliant investigation of the man through the music is thrilling and moving. Ferguson's reading could be worse, but not much. His intonation is generally passable, but he is clearly not competent to read this book. Technical music terms, but also multisyllabic academic expressions flummox him, receiving weird emphases and pauses that force the reader to guess what is really being said, not to mention disrupting the illusion that the reader is speaking with understanding. That's not even to count the sporadic errors like "Bach finds the means to take the string out of the aggression".
Worst of all is his pronunciation of German, which is crucial to a biography of Bach. One wonders why Ferguson didn't look at the text and just decide that it would be too embarrassing: Either he should pass on the job, or spend an hour or two at least learning some of the basics of German pronunciation. He sounds like a computer programmed to pronounce English written text, fed with German writing and just ploughing through it. It would be barely less comprehensible -- and less disruptive to the reader -- if the German expressions and texts were simply cut out and replaced with silence or white noise..
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
I listen to about three books a week, so I have a broad experience in the varying qualities of books of various genres. I've listened to longer histories, Toland's biography of Hitler, for example, and I have to say that this history of Bach must be one of those books that just needs to be read, not heard. The narration is very precise, which does not necessarily equal pleasant reading. I ended up returning this book, simply because there was not enough movement in the narrative to maintain my interest.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
I did appreciate the scholarship in this book, but it does not make for interesting listening.
Did Antony Ferguson do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?
None at all.
Could you see Bach being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?
Not a chance.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
A wonderful book written by one of today's leading authorities on Bach. But my God , the narration - probably the most wooden I have ever heard. It actually sounds like one of those computer generated narrations at times. Eventually, I purchased the print book; it was the only way to really enjoy it.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about Bach?
Who was your favorite character and why?
What didn’t you like about Antony Ferguson’s performance?
Was it read by a computer? Pace, pronunciation, emphasis all shows ignorance of the subject matter, and no effort to understand the meaning of what was read. There are many excellent out of work actors who should have done the reading.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Profound insights from the author.
Any additional comments?
The reading is shameful, and I am sure horrified John Eliot Gardiner when he heard it. A computer would have read it better....
3 of 3 people found this review helpful