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1 hour
First broadcast:
Sunday 10 February 2013

A sequence of poetry, prose and music on the theme of concealment and the invisible.
Alex Jennings and Maxine Peake read poems and prose by Lewis Carroll, Edward Thomas and John Clare about secrets, lost things and encrypted meaning. There's music by Elgar, Bartok, Britten and Poulenc.

Producer: Natalie Steed.

Music Played

39 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for John Barry

    John Barry Main Theme, The Ipcress Files


    Silva Screen Records

  • Ben Jonson

    On Spies, reader Maxine Peake

  • Hannah Weiner

    Code Poem, readers Alex Jennings, Maxine Peake

  • Image for John Tavener

    John Tavener The Hidden Treasure

    Performer: Chilingirian Quartet


  • Emily Dickinson

    Split the Lark, reader Maxine Peake

  • Thomas Wyatt

    Stand, whoso list, upon the slipper wheel of fame, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Gabriel Fauré

    Gabriel Fauré Le Secret

    Performer: Janet Baker, Geoffrey Parsons


  • Image for Edward Elgar

    Edward Elgar Variations on an Original Theme ("Enigma"), X Intermezzo: Dorabella

    Performer: Hallé Orchestra, Music Director, Mark Elder

    HALLE CDHLL 7501

  • Lewis Carroll

    from Alice in Wonderland, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Robert Schumann

    Robert Schumann Carnaval, Reconnaissance

    Performer: Claudio Arrau

    PHILIPS 4208712

  • Image for Tom Lehrer

    Tom Lehrer Oedipus Rex

    Performer: Tom Lehrer

    Rhino UK B00000340N

  • Anon, translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland

    Riddle 47, The Exeter Book of Riddles, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Camille Saint-Saëns

    Camille Saint-Saëns Le Cygne, from Carnival of the Animals

    Performer: Paul Tortellier

    EMI CDM7693862

  • Anon, translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland,

    Riddle 7, The Exeter Book of Riddles, reader Maxine Peake

  • Don Paterson

    Breath, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Eric Whitacre

    Eric Whitacre Water Night

    Performer: The Eric Whitacre Singers


  • Kathleen Jamie

    Ultrasound, reader Maxine Peake

  • Edward Thomas

    Thaw, reader Maxine Peake

  • Image for Arnold Bax

    Arnold Bax Spring Fire, Symphony, In the Forest Before Dawn

    Performer: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Vernon Handley


  • Simon Armitage

    Diana and Actaeon, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Francis Poulenc

    Francis Poulenc Aubade

    Performer: Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, James Conlon

    ERATO ECD88140

  • Wendy Cope

    Actaeon's Lover, reader Maxine Peake

  • Image for 伊福部昭

    伊福部昭 Godzilla - Suite

    Performer: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

    Silva Screen, 5

  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Kraken, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Claude Debussy

    Claude Debussy Préludes, Book 1, Profondément calme (La cathédrale engloutie)

    Performer: Yukie Nagai

    BIS CD371

  • U. A. Fanthorpe

    7 Types of Shadow, reader Maxine Peake

  • John Burnside

    Archeology, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Richard Strauss

    Richard Strauss Eine Alpensinfonie, Nebel steigen auf, Die Sonne verdüstert sich allmählich, Elegie

    Performer: Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan


  • Seamus Heaney

    The Bog Queen, reader Maxine Peake

  • John Clare

    I hid my love, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Béla Bartók

    Béla Bartók Strichquartett Nr. 3, 3. Coda: Allegro molto

    Performer: Emerson String Quartet


  • Ruth Pitter

    If you came, reader Maxine Peake

  • John Dryden

    The Hidden Flame, reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Benjamin Britten

    Benjamin Britten Night covers up the rigid land

    Performer: Neil Mackie, Roger Vignoles

    EMI CDC7492572

  • Image for Antony Hegarty

    Antony Hegarty For Today I Am a Boy

    Performer: The Unthanks

    RabbleRouser Music RRM009

  • Carol Anne Duffy

    Pope Joan, reader Maxine Peake

  • Image for William Byrd

    William Byrd Salve sancta parens

    Performer: The Cardinall's Musick


  • W. H. Auden

    Twelve Songs [Song VIII, April 1936] reader Alex Jennings

  • Image for Leiber and Stoller

    Leiber and Stoller Is That All There Is?

    Performer: Peggy Lee

    CAPITOL, 15





  • Producer's Note

    This edition of Words and Music is about the invisible, the unseen and the secret.

    We begin with spies and a classic theme from John Barry. There’s a secret Morse Code rendition of a poem and Hannah Weiner’s extraordinary construction from the International Code of Signals for the Use of All Nations.

    Emily Dickinson’s poem on the diminishing of mystery through over examination is teamed with John Tavener’s The Hidden Treasure

    Music has often been used to carry secret meanings: whether as the means to crack a code or reference to a secret love. Elgar’s Enigma Variations have been the subject of speculation and the ciphered letter the composer sent to Miss Dora Penney, the “Dorabella” of this variation, remains unsolved whilst Schumann described his Carnaval as a kind of game of deciphering.

    Oedipus is one of the first great unravellers of riddles in literary history but even he may have found the Mad Hatter’s offering something of a test: why is a raven like a writing desk?

    The poems, Breath by Don Paterson and Ultrasound by Kathleen Jamie deal with hidden mysteries of the body whilst Actaeon suffers agonies for an inadvertent glimpse of the divine Diana in her private glade.

    Edward Thomas and Arnold Bax herald the moment of spring’s reveal and we move to things hidden in the sea and the earth: the great Godzilla and Tennyson’s Kraken; Debussy’s sunken Cathedral and its briny toll; U A Fanthorpe’s drowned and razed villages whose traces are written into the landscape and the imagined and animated voices of the long buried.

    Secret love and longing is explored in the next section whether John Clare’s hidden love, Ruth Pitter’s ardent self- protection, the revelation of Pope Joan, or the ache for transformation.

    We finish with Auden’s plangent dive into the gossip and whispers and Peggy Lee’s glorious and gladdening shrugging off of disappointment at the discovery of life’s surface holding few hidden depths.

    Producer: Natalie Steed


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