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Music Review: Songs of Rudyard Kipling with Leonard Warren


          British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling spanned topics including imperialism, war and children, but instead of reading Rudyard Kipling, I had the chance to hear a selection of his poems superbly preformed by famous Metropolitan Opera Baritone Leonard Warren.  This classic record has been wonderfully remastered and includes 9 songs; some more famous titles such as Gunga Din and Mandalay are featured.

          Leonard Warren turns Kipling’s rhythmic poetry into beautifully expressive pieces, conveying the correct emotions as the narrator in Gunga Din gets shot, for example.  His voice and the compositions are accessible to the non-opera listener, as the words are articulate and the orchestra supports the emotions with simple melodies that are easy to follow.  Warren fills all the roles well, seeming to switch from a marching soldier to a Sergeant mourning at a hanging effortlessly.  Warren’s voice and expressiveness is one of the highlights of this CD.

          Some songs to listen to on this record are Gunga Din, Danny Deever, and On the Road to Mandalay.  These songs show off Warren’s capabilities and the poems have emotions that speak for themselves without the acting Warren adds and the combination of both of these makes the pieces a spectacular performance.  Overall the whole CD was an enjoyable experience and a useful extension to my readings of Rudyard Kipling.

          The only downside of this wonderful CD was the transition from record to CD was not perfect which added a fuzzy and clicking  sound over some of the tracks.  Since remastered records are an accessible way to experience outstanding classic artists and performances, the quality of the recording did not hamper my overall impression that Warren’s voice and Kipling’s words were a perfect match.  Songs of Rudyard Kipling was an impressive performance from Warren and a beautiful listen despite some fuzzy sounds.