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The Doors of Perception

Poetry, prose and music centring on altered states and visions, with readings by Jim Broadbent and Miranda Richardson. Includes Baudelaire and Blake, plus Ravel, Crumb and Cage.

The unifying idea behind this edition of Words and Music is that reality is variable and personal. The texts, read by Jim Broadbent and Miranda Richardson, cover the best part of 2000 years from the Bible's Book of Revelation, to last year's "Late" by Christopher Reid.

It's striking that, despite the various ways of coming to that reality (religion, a refined sensibility, illness, mind-altering drugs), these visions share many similarities. The weird animal hell-on-earth of Revelation is echoed in Thomas De Quincey's opium nightmares; Baudelaire's bedroom (while he's on a high, at least) is as perfect and intoxicating as the heavenly paradise described by the fourth-Century St Ephrem. Coleridge's trippy "Kubla Khan" features another Oriental paradise with hints of something disturbing but distant; Alice's mushroom has very peculiar effects. The experience of Julian of Norwich, alternating between ecstasy and pain, and the fevered ravings of Sylvia Plath are strangely similar; Blake sees the infinite in the small and apparently insignificant, and after a long marriage Christopher Reid still feels the presence of his dead wife. Funnily enough, it's Aldous Huxley with his rather too well organised mescalin experiment who stays earthbound. The music ranges from Bach to Zappa, by way of (among others) Mahler, Ravel, Debussy, Messiaen, Crumb and Cage.

Producer: David Papp.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Wed 22 Dec 2010 17:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No. 7 (1st movement [excerpt])

    Performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado (conductor)

    • Deutsche Grammophon 455 513-2.
  • William Blake

    Auguries of Innocence [beginning] read by Miranda Richardson

  • William Blake

    The Marriage of Heaven and Hell [excerpt] read by Jim Broadbent

  • 00:03

    Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" (5th movement [excerpt])

    Performers: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle (conductor)

    • EMI CDS 7 47962 8.
  • St Ephrem the Syrian

    Hymns on Paradise: Hymn VI [excerpt] read by Miranda Richardson

  • 00:05

    Maurice Ravel

    Asie (from Shéhérazade) [excerpt]

    Performers: Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo), Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez (conductor)

    • Deutsche Grammophon 477 5082.
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    Kubla Khan: or, A Vision in a Dream read by Jim Broadbent

  • 00:11

    James Rhodes

    Pagodes [excerpt]

    Arranger: Percy Grainger Performers: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle (conductor)

    • EMI 5 56412 2.
  • Aldous Huxley

    The Doors of Perception [excerpt: Huxley looks at his trousers] read by Jim Broadbent

  • 00:16

    George Crumb

    Black Angels [excerpt]

    Performers: Kronos Quartet

    • Nonesuch 7559-79242-2.
  • St John the Divine

    Book of the Revelation of St John: Chapter 9, verses 2 - 9 read by Miranda Richardson

  • 00:18

    Frank Zappa

    Prelude to King Kong

    Performers: Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention

    • Zappa Records CDD ZAP 3, CD 1,.
  • 00:22

    Béla Bartók - The Chase (from The Miraculous Mandarin)

    Performers: London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado (conductor)

  • Thomas De Quincey

    Confessions of an English Opium-Eater [excerpt: De Quincey’s opium nightmare]

  • 00:25

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Aria: Kommt ihr angefochtnen Sünder (from Cantata No. 30)

    Performers: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (mezzo), Orchestra of Emmanuel Music, Craig Smith (conductor)

    • Avie AV2130.
  • Lewis Carroll

    Alice in Wonderland [excerpt: Alice and the caterpillar] read by Miranda Richardson

  • 00:36

    Grace Slick

    White Rabbit

    Performers: Jefferson Airplane

    • RCA 828796 7917 2 CD 1.
  • 00:39

    Olivier Messiaen

    Louange à l'Éternité (from Quatuor pour la fin du temps)

    Performers: Steven Isserlis (cello), Olli Mustonen (piano)

    • Decca 452 899-2.
  • Charles Baudelaire

    La chambre double read by Jim Broadbent

  • 00:47

    Dmitry Shostakovich

    String Quartet No. 11 in F minor: 3rd movement "Recitative

    Performers: Jerusalem Quartet

    • Harmonia Mundi HMC 901953,.
  • 00:48

    John Sheppard

    Media in vita in morte sum [excerpt]

    Performers: Gabrieli Consort/Paul MacCreesh

    • DG 477 6605.
  • Showing of Love: Chapter 15 [excerpt] read by Miranda Richardson

    Julian of Norwich (translated by Julia Bolton Holloway)

  • 00:54

    Franz Schubert

    String Quintet in C major: 2nd movement, Adagio [excerpt]

    Performers: Alban Berg String Quartet & Heinrich Schiff (cello)

    • EMI 5 66890 2.
  • Sylvia Plath

    Fever 103° read by Miranda Richardson

  • 00:57

    Franz Schubert

    String Quintet in C major: 2nd movement, Adagio [continued]

    Performers: Alban Berg String Quartet & Heinrich Schiff (cello)

    • EMI 5 66890 2.
  • Christopher Reid

    Late read by Jim Broadbent

  • 01:04

    John Cage

    In a Landscape

    Performers: Alexei Lubimov (piano)

    • ECM 461 812-2.

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