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Two talented readers, Jeremy Nicholas as narrator and Peter Yapp as the mysterious Persian deus ex machina, and contemporary music ran- ging from Berlioz to Massenet brilliantly conjure up the gothic grand guignol of Gaston Leroux's original 1911 tale of The Phantom of the Opera (Naxos, 2hrs 40 mins, pounds 7.99).

Rik Mayall puts so much breathy degeneracy into his reading of Joseph Connolly's grotesquely comic Poor Souls (EMI, pounds 7.99) that you feel as if you are actually seeing the sleazy and selfish world of yuppie Britain - Friends gone horribly wrong - with your ears.

Christina Hardyment