By Nicolas Soames

There are no fewer than five new releases on Ukemi this month. And the variety is such that the main categories which the label has presented since it first started six years ago are fairly represented.

David Rintoul

We continue our survey of the influential titles of the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung with one of his most challenging titles – Aion – Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. The title refers to the age of Christianity, and it is this that Jung, bringing his immensely wide learning to bear, considers ‘the collective psychic development’ the Christian era represents. He delves into the symbolism of the fish, the concepts of the ego, the shadow, the animus/anima, and brings to bear his wide studies not only into the Christian texts, including Gnostic material, but also texts alchemical and pagan. It is expertly read by David Rintoul.

A more secular consideration of phenomenology is the nature of the works of Martin Heidegger. Ukemi presents here a very useful compilation of four concise texts, What is Metaphysics?What is Philosophy?The Question of Being and On the Essence of Truth. Martyn Swain presents the challenging recording with his customary clarity.

Two other recordings go back to earlier times. Demosthenes (384-322 BCE) is regarded as one of the greatest of Classical orators, and his speeches, warning his fellow Athenians of the threat posed by the ambitions of Philip II of Macedon, and his son Alexander the Great. In this compilation, read persuasively by David Rintoul (an actor of considerable range!) we present The Principal SpeechesThe Three Olynthiac Orations, the Three Philippics, On the Peace and The Oration on the Letter. All have been read and closely studied since their original delivery over two millenia ago!

The second ancient classic is from another world (in many ways) – the medieval environment of the Heian period in Japan. The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon is a collection of witty, sharp, sensitive observations of a lady at the court of Empress Sadako. Writing in the last decade of the 10th century, Shōnagon noted the things she saw, the people she encountered, the feelings she experienced, giving us (not least through a natural literary facility backed by acute observation) a remarkable glimpse into her time. It stands shoulder to shoulder with The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikubu, which was written at the same time. It is presented here by Georgina Sutton, reading the unabridged translation by Ivan Morris.

Michael Lunts

And finally – we are back to Jung, via Richard Wagner! In the 1960s, the British musicologist Robert Donington produced the ground-breaking analysis of Wagner’s great opera cycle, seen through a ‘post-Jungian’ prism. In Wagner’s ‘Ring’ and its Symbols, Donington takes us through the four operas showing how the Jungian aspects of the personality infuses the story we know with a great richness and depth. Apply the archetypes (the father figure, the shadow, the hero et al) underpinning the myths; and then add a close look at the famous leitmotifs of the characters and their emotional turmoil (redemption, destiny, the Spear of Wotan) etc, and we emerge more aware of the enormity of the Wagnerian vision than ever before. In his original (Faber) book, Donington noted the leitmotifs in his main narrative, adding the piano score of all the major leitmotifs (for those who can read music) at the back. BUT in this recording, read AND played by Michael Lunts, the leitmotifs are there immediately, just when Donington is discussing the character of Loge, the insistence of the giants, Fasolt and Fafner, the passion of Siegmund and Sieglinde, the Curse of Alberich. This is audiobook recording at its very best – most helpful and most engaging – bringing together words and music. It is, I can assure you, an eyeopener…for anyone wanting to get to grips with The Ring!


Nicolas Soames