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Different Trains

Texts and music on the theme of railways, with readings by Jonathan Pryce and Eleanor Bron. With Zola, Hawthorne, Dickens and Hardy, plus Honegger, Rossini, Offenbach and Ives.

In 1830, the first railway passenger service in the world was established between Manchester and Liverpool - ever since railways have exerted their special fascination, not least with writers and musicians. They can evoke adventure and romance, excitement, power and fear. Dickens, for example, had a strong dislike of trains, but couldn't ignore them in his fiction.

The path of a train can mirror a journey through life. The 19th century Parisian railway provided a powerful backdrop to Emile Zola's exploration of the darker side of human nature in La Bête Humaine; while for the American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, the train was the means of carriage for a soul's symbolic journey towards spiritual fulfilment. Arthur Honegger famously used an orchestra to mimic the sound of a great continental steam train, while Rossini - who detested the railway - took a certain pleasure in creating a musical depiction of a hypothetical railway accident. Trains mean rendezvous, departure, loss and transportation. For some, the incessant drive of a great steam engine is potent expression of a mechanised industrialized world. For one poet, the clickety-clack of metal wheels on metal rails evokes something primeval.

Jonathan Pryce and Eleanor Bron read poems and texts celebrating our relationship with trains by Emile Zola, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Wilfred Owen, Thomas Hardy, Philip Larkin, Leo Tolstoy and Primo Levi; alongside archive recordings from TS Eliot and John Laurie. Featured "Train" music includes musical thoughts from Arthur Honegger, Percy Grainger, Gioachino Rossini, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Mikhail Glinka, Charles Ives, Benjamin Britten, Rued Langgaard, Simon Bainbridge, Meade "Lux" Lewis and Elvis Presley.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 4 Oct 2015 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Arthur Honegger

    Pacific 231 (excerpt)

    Performer: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaclav Neumann (conductor)

    • Praga PR250001.
  • Émile Zola, trans. Roger Whitehouse

    La Bête Humaine (The Beast Within) (excerpt), reader Jonathan Pryce

  • 00:06

    Jacques Offenbach

    La Vie Parisienne - Act 1 Chorus: Nous sommes employés de la ligne de l'Ouest

    Performer: Orchestre et Choers du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson (conductor)

    • EMI CDS7471548.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson

    From A Railway Carriage, reader Eleanor Bron

  • 00:08

    Percy Grainger

    Train Music (1901)

    Performer: CBSO, Simon Rattle (conductor)

    • EMI Classics 556412.
  • 00:09

    Meade Lux Lewis

    Honky Tonk Train Blues

    Performer: Meade "Lux" Lewis (piano)

    • Atlantic 7816942.
  • Kenneth Graham

    The Wind in the Willows - Toad's Adventures (excerpt), reader Jonathan Pryce

  • 00:12

    Carson Robison and Robert E Massey

    The Runaway Train

    Performer: Michael Holliday (singer)

    • EMI 360029.
  • Simon Garfield

    The Last Journey of William Huskisson (excerpt), reader Eleanor Bron

  • 00:15

    Gioachino Rossini

    Un petit train de plaisir (excerpt)

    Performer: Aldo Ciccolini (piano)

    • HMV 290978.
  • Simon Garfield

    The Last Journey of William Huskisson (excerpt continued), reader Eleanor Bron

  • 00:18

    Gioachino Rossini

    Un petit train de plaisir (excerpt continued)

    Performer: Aldo Ciccolini (piano)

    • HMV 290978.
  • William McGonagall

    The Tay Bridge Disaster, reader John Laurie

  • 00:22

    Heitor Villa‐Lobos

    The Little Train of Caipira

    Performer: Morton Gould and His Orchestra

    • SKU 158054.
  • Jay Appleton

    Clickety-Clack, reader Eleanor Bron. From Jay Appleton’s collection 'Shadows of the Evening' published by Wildhern Press. Used with permission.

  • 00:27

    Joseph Haydn

    Symphony No 23 in G - Mvt 4 Presto assai

    Performer: The Hanover Band, Roy Goodman (director)

    • Hyperion CDA 66536.
  • 00:28

    Charles Ives

    Symphony No 4 - mvt II (excerpt)

    Performer: NYPO, Michael Tilson-Thomas (conductor)

    • DG 42322432.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne

    The Celestial Railway (excerpt), reader Jonathan Pryce

  • 00:30

    Charles Ives

    Symphony No 23 in G - Symphony No 4 - mvt II (excerpt continued)

    Performer: NYPO, Michael Tilson-Thomas (conductor)

    • DG 42322432.
  • 00:33

    Steve Reich

    Different Trains – 3rd Mvt (excerpt)

    Performer: Kronos Quartet

    • ECD130.
  • 00:37

    Michael Nyman

    MGV (excerpt)

    Performer: Michael Nyman Band and Orchestra

    • ARGO 443 382-2.
  • 00:39

    Benjamin Britten (words by W. H. Auden)

    Night Mail

    Performer: Nigel Hawthorne (narr), The Nash Ensemble, Lionel Friend (conductor)

    • Hyperion CDA66845.
  • T. S. Eliot

    Shimbleshanks – The Railway Cat (excerpt), reader T. S. Eliot

  • 00:44

    Rued Langgaard

    String Quartet No 2 - Mvt 2 ("Train Passing By")

    Performer: Kontra Quartet

    • Marco Polo DCCD9302.
  • Charles Dickens

    Mugby Junction (excerpt), reader Eleanor Bron

  • 00:47

    Benjamin Britten

    Winter Words "Midnight On The Great Western – The Journeying Boy"

    Performer: Peter Pears (tenor), Benjamin Britten (piano)

    • DECCA 4259962.
  • 00:52

    Junior Parker/Sam Phillips

    Mystery Train

    Performer: Elvis Presley

    • RCA PD86414.
  • Philip Larkin

    The Whitsun Weddings (excerpt), reader Jonathan Pryce

  • 00:56

    Francis Poulenc

    Improvisation No 15

    Performer: Pascal Roge (piano)

    • DECCA 417 438.
  • Wilfred Owen

    The Send Off, reader Eleanor Bron

  • 00:58

    Sergei Prokofiev

    Winter Bonfires - Prelude

    Performer: New London Orchestra, Ronald Corp (conductor)

    • Hyperion Helios CDH5517.
  • Thomas Hardy

    On the Departure Platform, reader Jonathan Pryce

  • 01:01

    Sergey Rachmaninov

    Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor – 1st Mvt (excerpt)

    Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano), Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Kyril Kondrashin (conductor)

    • DECCA 466 3752.
  • 01:02

    Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka

    "Poputnya Pesnya"- A Farewell to St Petersburg

    Performer: Sergei Leiferkus (bass), Semion Skigin (piano)

    • CONIFER 75605512642.
  • Leo Tolstoy

    Anna Karenin, (Trans. Rosemary Edmunds) reader Eleanor Bron

  • 01:05

    Constant Lambert

    Music for the film "Anna Karenin" (excerpt)

    Performer: National Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Hermann (conductor)

    • LONDON 4489542.
  • 01:07

    Simon Bainbridge

    Ad Ora Incerta – "Buna" (excerpt))

    Performer: BBCSO, Martyn Brabbins (conductor)

    • NMC NMCD059.
  • Primo Levi, trans. Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann

    Ad Ora Incerta - "Lunedi" (Ad Ora Incerta - "Monday"), reader Jonathan Pryce

  • 01:09

    Simon Bainbridge

    Ad Ora Incerta – "Lundi"

    Performer: BBCSO, Martyn Brabbins (conductor)

    • NMC NMCD059.
  • Katrina Porteous

    If My Train Will Come, reader Eleanor Bron

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