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Texts and music on the subject of time, with readings by Gemma Arterton and Rufus Sewell. With Shakespeare, Lawrence and Milton, plus Haydn, Messiaen, Ligeti and Pink Floyd.

Gemma Arterton and Rufus Sewell read extracts on the subject of Time, a theme which has always been popular with authors, poets and composers. From the mourning of the passing of time in poems by Shakespeare, DH Lawrence and John Milton, to the writers who play with the very concept of time. Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter has bargained with Time for it to always be teatime, while in Kurt Vonnegut's Tralfamadore, moments in the past and future are as permanent as in the present. Martin Amis takes the idea to the extreme by writing the narrative of his novel Time's Arrow backwards! There's also time travel, from Scrooge's nocturnal visit to his past, to HG Wells's Time Machine disappearing into the future. Many composers from the classical, jazz and pop worlds have experimented with unusual or constantly changing time signatures. Guillaume de Machaut and Conlon Nancarrow go further by writing music in which music retraces its steps and goes backwards. The programme also includes music by Haydn, Messiaen, Ligeti and Pink Floyd.

Producer - Ellie Mant.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Music Played

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

  • William Shakespeare: Sonnet 12

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • 00:01

    Edvard Grieg

    Vanished Days Op.57'1 (extract)

    Performer: Mikhail Pletnev (piano)

    • REGIS RRC1350.
  • HG Wells: The Time Machine

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • 00:04

    John Adams

    Short Ride in a Fast Machine

    Performer: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Performer: Simon Rattle (conductor)

    • EMI CDC5550512.
  • Allen Ahlberg: The Slow Man

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • 00:09

    John Dowland

    Time stands still (extract)

    Performer: Emma Kirkby (soprano) Performer: Anthony Rooley (lute)

    • BIS BISSACD1475.
  • Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • 00:13

    Desmond

    Take Five (extract)

    Performer: Dave Brubeck Quartet

    • CBS CD32046.
  • Dava Sobel: Longitude

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • 00:16

    Harrison Birtwistle

    Harrison's Clocks: Clock 5 (extract)

    Performer: Joanna McGregor (piano)

    • SOUND CIRCUS SC004.
  • 00:18

    Joseph Haydn

    Symphony no.101 in D major, 'The Clock'; 2nd movement (extract)

    Performer: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Performer: Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)

    • TELDEC 06301 89532.
  • Anon: Epitaph in Lydford Churchyard

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • Roger McGough: Potato Clock

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • 00:21

    Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour

    Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour - Time (extract)

    Performer: Pink Floyd

  • Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • 00:26

    Leos Janáček

    The Makropulos Case (extract)

    Performer: Elizabeth Söderström Performer: Anna Czaková Performer: Peter Dvorský (Albert Gregor) Performer: Vienna State Opera Chorus Performer: Vienna Philharmonic Performer: Charles Mackerras (conductor)

    • DECCA 430 372-2.
  • 00:30

    Franz Schubert

    Moment Musicaux in A flat major, Op.94'6

    Performer: Jenö Jandó (piano)

    • NAXOS 8.550259.
  • D. H Lawrence: Piano

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • Daljit Nagra: 8

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • 00:37

    Michael Nyman

    Time lapse

    Performer: The Michael Nyman Band Performer: Michael Nyman (conductor)

    • MN MNRCD106.
  • Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • 00:43

    Guillaume de Machaut

    My End is my Beginning (extract)

    Performer: Orlando Consort

    • ARCHIV 4576182.
  • TS Eliot: Four Quartets - East Coker

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • 00:47

    Radiohead

    Pyramid Song

    Performer: Radiohead

    • PARLOPHONE 2163052.
  • Martin Amis: Time’s Arrow

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • 00:52

    Conlon Nancarrow

    Study number 21

    Performer: Player Piano

    • OTHER MINDS OM 1012/15-2.
  • John Milton: On Time

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • 00:56

    Olivier Messiaen

    Quartet for the End of Time; Louange a l'Immortalitie de Jesus (extract)

    Performer: Albert Tetard (cello) Performer: Daniel Barenboim (piano)

    • DG 423 247-2.
  • Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • 01:02

    Joseph Haydn

    The Spirit's Song (extract)

    Performer: Carolyn Watkinson (mezzo-soprano) Performer: Glen Wilson (fortepiano)

    • VIRGIN VC7912152.
  • Sylvia Kantaris: Snapshotland

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • Charles Simic: The Clocks of the Dead

    Read by Rufus Sewell

  • 01:06

    György Ligeti

    Clocks and Clouds (extract)

    Performer: Cappella Amsterdam Performer: ASKO/Schönberg Ensemble Performer: Daniel Reuss (conductor)

    • TELDEC 8573876312.
  • Valerie Bloom: Time

    Read by Gemma Arterton

  • 01:08

    Frédéric Chopin

    Minute Waltz, Op.64'1

    Performer: Dmitri Alexeev (piano)

    • EMI CDC7475012.
  • 01:10

    Bo Holten

    A Time for Everything (extract)

    Performer: BBC Singers Performer: Bo Holten (conductor)

    • DACAPO 8224214.
  • The Bible: Ecclesiastes: A time for everything

    Read by Rufus Sewell

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