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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
McKellen part of Shakespeare CD
Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen has had a long association with the RSC
The Royal Shakespeare Company is releasing a CD of some of its most memorable performances from the past four decades.

Scenes featuring Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Anthony Sher will feature on the two-disc set.

Excerpts from plays including King Lear, Richard II, and the Wars of the Roses from 1963 have been compiled.

Dame Judi said: "It's incredibly moving to hear some of our greatest actors performing Shakespeare."

The recordings have been cleaned up by British Library Sound Archive to make them suitable for home listening.

Audience presence

"To remove all of the apparent blemishes or unwanted artefacts would be impossible, and even if it were it would be undesirable," said technician Nigel Bewley.

"To remove or reduce every vestige of an audience's presence would have resulted in something anodyne or sterile."

The RSC's associate director Gregory Doran was responsible for listening to the many live performance recordings, saying he chose a "few extracts from some of my personal favourites".

The first extract is from Coriolanus at Stratford in 1959 featuring Sir Laurence Olivier.

The final performance is from All's Well That Ends Well directed by Doran in 2002 and starring Dame Judi as Countess Rossillion.

Hear clips from the CD and Gregory Doran explain his choices

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