Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

The Old Refrain

Poems and music on the theme of refrain and repetition, with readings by Samuel West and Nancy Carroll. Works by Yeats and Hopkins, plus music by Berlioz, Brahms, Tavener and Ravel.

This edition of Words and Music is all about refrain. Whether it appears in a poem such as Easter, 1916 by Yeats or in the idée fixe of Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique; whether its anguished as in Villanelle by William Empson or wonderfully ingenious as in Dana Gioia's double triolet - The Country Wife.

Why are we fascinated by the idea of repetition? Rhythm is meaningless without it. It gives shape and subtlety to music and poetry and by its modulated insistence often unlocks the door to our most complex feelings and thoughts. We use past experience as a tool to understand what's happening to us in the present and what might happen to us in the future.

The actors Samuel West and Nancy Carroll read the poems and count on a supporting musical cast that includes Brahms, Tavener and Ravel.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 8 Aug 2010 22:45

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Fritz Kreisler

    The Old Refrain

    Performer: Fritz Kreisler

    • RCA 09026616492.
  • John Donne

    Hymn to God the Father read by Samuel West

  • 00:04

    Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

    Hodie Christus natus est

    Performer: Trinity College Chapel Choir, Richard Marlow

    • Hyperion CDA67103.
  • Hans Magnus Enzensberger

    Notice of Loss read by Nancy Carroll

  • 00:08

    Tom Waits

    Way down in the Hole

    Performer: Tom Waits

    • ISLAND IMCD50.
  • Dylan Thomas

    Do not go gentle into that good night read by Samuel West

  • 00:13

    John Tavener

    The Protecting Veil

    Performer: Steven Isserlis, London Symphony Orchestra

    • VIRGIN CLASSICS VC7914742.
  • W.B.Yeats

    Easter, 1916 read by Samuel West

  • 00:21

    Bart van der Schelling

    Viva La Quince Brigada from Spain in My Heart

    Performer: Quetzal

    • APPLESEED APRCD1074.
  • Adrian Mitchell

    To whom it may concern read by Nancy Carroll

  • 00:26

    Blind Alfred Reed

    How can a poor man stand such times and live?

    Performer: Blind Alfred Reed

    • RVN11.
  • Louis MacNeice

    Bagpipe Music read by Samuel West

  • 00:31

    Grace Slick

    White Rabbit

    Performer: Jefferson Airplane

    • SONY88697092902.
  • William Empson

    Villanelle read by Nancy Carroll

  • 00:35

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Leporello's catalogue from Don Giovanni

    Performer: Giuseppe Taddei, Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, Giulini

    • EMI CDS7472608.
  • Thomas Hardy

    How great my grief read by Samuel West

  • 00:41

    Bob Dylan

    Knockin' on Heaven's Door

    Performer: Bob Dylan

    • COLUMBIA 5031332.
  • Dana Gioia

    The Country wife read by Samuel West

  • 00:44

    Maurice Ravel

    Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Faure

    Performer: Augustin Dumay, Maria Joao Pires

    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4458802.
  • Elizabeth Bishop

    Sestina read by Nancy Carroll

  • 00:49

    Johannes Brahms

    Wiegenlied

    Performer: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

    • EMI CDS7648202.
  • Czeslaw Milosz

    A Song on the End of the World read by Nancy Carroll

  • 00:53

    Hector Berlioz

    Marche au supplice from Symphonie Fantastique

    Performer: London Symphony Orchestera, Sir Colin Davis

    • PHILLIPS 4222532.

Broadcast

The hidden history of plant-based diets

The hidden history of plant-based diets

Forget social media influencers - the meat-free movement started with the Victorians.

Books website

Books website

Get closer to books with in-depth articles, quizzes and our picks from radio & TV.