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Playing: String Quartet no. 15 in E flat minor Op.144 by Dmitri Shostakovich
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Last Things

Duration:
1 hour, 15 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 30 January 2011

An edition of Words and Music about endings with readers Tim Pigott-Smith and Katherine Parkinson.

The subjects include last love and its consolations; death and what may follow; sound fading into silence and Heaven and Hell. These pieces are often the last words of a writer or a composer's last works and can act as a wry counterpoint, or even a kind of swansong.

So Schubert's 'String Quintet' sits next to John Updike's birthday meditations shortly before his death in 2009; Mozart's 'Requiem' jostles up against the beautiful but bleached words of the narrator in Paul Auster's apocalyptic novel 'In the Country of Last Things'; and The Doors' psychedelic anthem, 'The End', underpins Michael Herr's memories of Vietnam and his eerie vision of a soul slowly unravelling like a parachute.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

Music Played

25 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for James MacMillan
    00:00

    James MacMillan Seven Last Words

    Performer: Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, cond.Stephen Layton

    HYPERION CDA67460, 2

  • Paul Auster

    Extract from In the Country of Last Things read by Katherine Parkinson

  • Image for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    00:06

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Requiem - Lacrimosa

    Performer: Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists cond. John Eliot Gardiner

    PHILIPS 4201972, 8

  • T.S.Eliot

    – extract from Little Gidding read by Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Image for Ludwig van Beethoven
    00:12

    Ludwig van Beethoven Cavatina from Quartet in B flat major, op.130

    Performer: Takacs Quartet

    DECCA 4708492

  • Seamus Heaney

    the Baler read by Katherine Parkinson

  • Image for Franz Schubert
    00:23

    Franz Schubert Quintet in C, D956 – Scherzo and Trio

    Performer: Alban Berg Quartet with Heinrich Schiff

    EMI CDM5668902, 3

  • John Updike

    from Endpoint - Mild Winter read by Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Image for Franz Schubert
    00:28

    Franz Schubert Quintet in C, D956 – Scherzo and Trio

    Performer: Alban Berg Quartet with Heinrich Schiff

    EMI CDM5668902, 3

  • John Updike

    From Endpoint - Raw days read by Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Image for Franz Schubert
    00:32

    Franz Schubert Quintet in C, D956 – Scherzo and Trio

    Performer: Alban Berg Quartet with Heinrich Schiff

    EMI CDM5668902, 3

  • John Updike

    From Endpoint - Not yet read by Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Image for The Doors
    00:36

    The Doors The End – Edit version

    Performer: The Doors

    ELEKTRA/WARNER 7559618602, 12

  • Michael Herr

    Extract from Dispatches read by Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Image for The Doors
    00:40

    The Doors The End – Edit version

    Performer: The Doors

    ELEKTRA/WARNER 7559618602, 12

  • Kurt Vonnegut

    Extract from Slaughterhouse 5 read by Katherine Parkinson

  • Image for Joseph Haydn
    00:46

    Joseph Haydn String quartet in E flat major, op.33 no.2 "The Joke" - finale

    Performer: Angeles String Quartet

    PHILIPS 4646502

  • Edwin Morgan

    One Cigarette – read by Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Image for John Tavener
    00:49

    John Tavener Towards Silence

    Performers: Medici Quartet, Finzi Quartet, Cavaleri Quartet, Fifth Quadrant, Sir John Tavener

    Signum Classics – SIGCD221, 2

  • A.E.Housman

    from Last Poems – XXXIII read by Katherine Parkinson

  • Image for G.Gershwin,Gershwin/D.Heyward)
    00:53

    G.Gershwin,Gershwin/D.Heyward) Gone, Gone, Gone from Porgy and Bess

    Performer: Miles Davis

    COLUMBIA CK65141, 4

  • Nazim Hikmet translated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk

    Last Will and Testament read by Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Image for Richard Strauss
    00:57

    Richard Strauss Im Abendrot

    Performers: Jessye Norman and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig cond. Kurt Masur

    PHILIPS 464 742-2, 4

  • Ford Madox Ford

    From On Heaven read by Tim Pigott-Smith

  • Image for Leslie Sarony
    01:10

    Leslie Sarony Ain't it grand to be bloomin' well dead – Part 1

    Performer: Leslie Sarony

    WINDYVAR11, 15

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