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Simon Mawer

Michael Berkeley's guest is novelist Simon Mawer. His choices includes music from Hildegard of Bingen, Mozart, Beethoven, Antheil, Janacke, Vitezslava Kapralova and Leo Ferre.

Michael Berkeley's guest this week is the novelist Simon Mawer, whose most recent novel, 'The Glass Room, was shortlisted for the 2009 Booker Prize. Born into a military family, he spent part of his childhood moving around the Mediterranean, and has lived in Italy for three decades. He began his career as a biology teacher before turning to full-time writing, and two of his books, including the 1997 novel 'Mendel's Dwarf', reveal an intense interest in genetics. 'The Gospel of Judas' has a Middle Eastern setting; 'Swimming to Ithaca' (2006) was inspired by his childhood experiences in Cyprus during the EOKA period, and 'The Fall' (2003) sprang from his own experiences as a rock climber. 'The Glass Room', inspired by an iconic 1920s house, returns to the central European setting of Brno, where Mendel also did his ground-breaking research.

Simon Mawer's music choices begin with a piece by Hildegard of Bingen, an exemplar of medieval faith expressed through music. They continue with an extract from Mozart's Mass in C minor, K427, which represents faith turned into art suitable for the concert hall. Beethoven's Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.111 is for Simon Mawer the most remarkable piece of abstract art, while George Antheil's Ballet mecanique stands for one of the most significant artistic movements of the 20th century - Dadaism. His remaining choices are connected with place - works by Janacek and Vitezslava Kapralova, the young Czech female composer who died tragically young in 1940, remind him of Brno; Leo Ferre's song 'Paname' is about the 'real' Paris that the tourists don't see; while Duke Ellington's Mood Indigo, created in new Orleans, was transported to Paris by Sidney Bechet.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 25 Sep 2011 12:00

Music Played

  • Hildegard von Bingen

    Colomba Aspexit

    Performers: Emma Kirkby (soprano), Gothic Voices, Doreen Muskett (symphony)

    • HYPERION CDA 66039.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Kyrie Eleison [from the Great Mass in C minor, K427]

    Performers: Sylvia McNair (soprano), Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardner;

    • PHILIPS 420 210-2.
  • Leos Janáček

    A blown-away leaf (from On the Overgrown Path, book 1)

    Performers: Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)

    • VIRGIN CLASSICS VC 759639-2.
  • George Antheil

    Ballet mécanique

    Performers: Ivan Davis (piano), Rex Lawson (pianolist), The New Palais Royale Orchetra and Percussion Ensemble/Maurice Peress

    • MUSIC MASTERS 01612-67094-2.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Piano Sonata in C minor, Opus 111 [beginning of the 2nd movement]

    Performers: Daniel Barenboim (piano)

    • DG 423 371-2.
  • Léo Ferré

    Paname

    Performers: Juliette Gréco (singer) with André Popp and his orchestra

    • POLYGRAM DISTRIBUTION 830 955-2.
  • Duke Ellington

    Mood Indigo

    Performers: Sidney Bechet and his New Orleans Feetwarmers

    • CLASSICS 860.
  • Vítezslava Kaprálová

    Partita for String Orchestra & Piano, Op 20 (1st movt, Allegro energico)

    Performers: Jiří Skovajsa (piano), Symphony Orchestra of Brno/Frantisek Jilek

    • STUDIO MATOUS MK0049-2011.

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