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After Shakespeare

Texts and music inspired by Shakespeare, with readings by Rory Kinnear and Adjoa Andoh. With Eliot, Plath, Hardy and Joyce, plus music by Sibelius, Purcell and Barber.

Poetry, prose and music inspired by Shakespeare including words by T.S. Eliot, Michael Longley, Anna Akmatova, Sylvia Plath, James Joyce and Carol Ann Duffy and music by Sibelius, Frank Martin, Duke Ellington, Tchaikovsky, Michael Tippett and Loudon Wainwright III. The readers are Rory Kinnear and Adjoa Andoh.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

New Year's Day 2015 16:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Henry Purcell

    The Fairy Queen

    Performer: The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers.
    • Collins SAAN 1668948.
    • Tr1.
  • Thomas Hardy

    To Shakespeare after 300 Years read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:02

    Felix Mendelssohn

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    Performer: Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy.
    • DECCA 4402962.
    • Tr2.
  • Carol Ann Duffy

    Anne Hathaway read by Adjoa Andoh

  • Carol Ann Duffy

    Anne Hathaway read by Adjoa Andoh

  • 00:07

    Erich Wolfgang Korngold

    Much Ado About Nothing Suite op 11

    Performer: Gil Shaham and André Previn.
    • Deutsche Grammophon 4398862.
    • Tr9.
  • 00:13

    Rufus Wainwright

    When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes from When Love Speaks

    Performer: Rufus Wainwright.
    • EMI CDC5573212.
    • Tr9.
  • Michael Longley

    Fleance read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:17

    Pyotr Tchaikovsky

    Ophelia’s First Scene from Hamlet op 67a

    Performer: Ljuba Kazarnovskaya and Ljuba Orfenova.
    • NAXOS 8570438.
    • Tr16.
  • Arthur Rimbaud

    Ophelia read by Adjoa Andoh

  • 00:20

    Frank Bridge

    There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook

    Performer: BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Richard Hickox.
    • CHANDOS CHAN101112.
    • Tr4.
  • T.S. Eliot

    from The Waste Land read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:31

    Roger Quilter

    How Should I Your True Love Know from Love Blows as the Wind Blows

    Performer: Jonathan Lemalu.
    • EMI 5580502.
    • Tr3.
  • Boris Pasternak translated by Mark Rudman

    English Lessons read by Adjoa Andoh

  • 00:34

    Matthew Harris

    Hark! Hark! The Lark from ‘Shakespearean Songs’

    Performer: Robert Comeaux and the Phoenix Bach Choir conducted by Charles Bruffy.
    • CHANDOS CHSA5031.
    • Tr1.
  • 00:35

    Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn

    Sonnet for Caesar from Such Sweet Thunder

    Performer: Duke Ellington & His Orchestra.
    • COLUMBIA CK65568.
    • Tr2.
  • Anna Akmatova translated by D.M. Thomas

    Cleopatra read by Adjoa Andoh

  • 00:39

    Samuel Barber

    On the Death of Cleopatra

    Performer: Cambridge University Chamber Choir conducted by Timothy Brown.
    • GAMUT GAMCD535.
    • Tr9.
  • Carol Ann Duffy

    Shakespeare read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:43

    William Walton

    Touch her Soft Lips and Part from Henry V

    Performer: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Hickox.
    • CHANDOS CHAN24112.
    • Tr9.
  • 00:44

    Loudon Wainwright III

    Prince Hal’s Dirge from The BBC Sessions

    Performer: Loudon Wainwright III.
    • Tr6.
  • 00:48

    Henry Purcell

    The Fairy Queen

    Performer: The Sixteen with Michael Chance conducted by Harry Christopher.
    • Collins SAAN 1668948.
    • Tr16.
  • Margaret Atwood

    Gertrude Talks Back read by Adjoa Andoh

  • 00:52

    Sergei Prokofiev

    The Young Juliet from Romeo and Juliet

    Performer: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy.
    • DECCA 4360782.
    • Tr10.
  • 00:55

    Leonard Bernstein


    Performer: Jimmy Bryant.
    • SONY SMK48211.
    • Tr6.
  • 00:57

    Claude Debussy

    Le Sommeil de Lear from Musiques pour Le Roi Lear

    Performer: Orchestre National de L’O.R.T.F. conducted by Jean Martinon.
    • EMI CDM7695872.
    • Tr11.
  • Matthew Arnold

    Shakespeare read by Rory Kinnear

  • 01:00

    Michael Tippett

    Songs for Ariel from Songs to Shakespeare

    Performer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Graham Johnson.
    • HYPERION CDA66480.
    • Tr22.
  • Sylvia Plath

    Full Fathom Five read by Adjoa Andoh

  • 01:05

    Frank Martin

    Full Fathom Five from Songs of Ariel

    Performer: Jacob W. Herbert and the Phoenix Bach Choir conducted by Charles Bruffy.
    • CHANDOS CHSA5031.
    • Tr9.
  • 01:08

    Jean Sibelius

    Berceuse and Ariel’s Song from The Tempest

    Performer: Academy of St Martin in the Fields conducted by Neville Marriner.
    • Tr8.
  • James Joyce

    from Ulysses read by Rory Kinnear

Producer's Note

This week’s programme features words and music inspired by Shakespeare as part of Radio 3’s celebration of the playwright’s birth. 


The readers are Rory Kinnear and Anjoa Andoh. Rory has recently finished his very successful run at the National Theatre where he played Iago to Adrian Lester’s Othello, a role for which he has just won an Olivier Award, four years after his award winning role as Hamlet, also at the National. Anjo’s most recent Shakespearean role was Portia in the RSC’s World Shakespeare Festival production.


We begin with Purcell's Prelude to ‘The Fairy Queen’, his 1691 opera inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ heard with the opening of Thomas Hardy’s poem written to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. In the poem he describes Shakespeare as ‘Bright baffling soul, least capturable of themes’ and Hardy’s work contains many Shakespearean echoes. In ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ Tess is seen as ‘one character alone in the landscape’ reminding the reader of King Lear. The character of Michael Henchard in ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ also resembles Lear in the disaster that befalls him after an impetuous decision. 


Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Anne Hathaway’ from her collection ‘The World’s Wife’ was inspired by Shakespeare’s will which bequeathed to his wife ‘my second best bed’. And, later in the programme, you’ll also hear Rory Kinnear read Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, ‘Shakespeare’, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company.


Two Wainwrights, father and son Loudon and Rufus, appear in the programme. Rufus Wainwright sings his own setting of Shakespeare’s sonnet ‘ When in disgrace with fortune in men’s eyes’ and Loudon Wainwright III sings his musical reimagining of Prince Hal’s dissolute life with Falstaff in the London taverns.


Michael Longley’s mysterious poem ‘Fleance’, inspired by the character from ‘Macbeth’, can be read as an exploration of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Here, Fleance escapes his father’s fate by hiding under the stage in a production of the play: life and art are intertwined as a paramilitary’s bullet kills Banquo instead of Shakespeare’s dagger.


The final sequence is a selection of musical and poetic reworkings of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. Tippett’s ‘Come unto these yellow sands’ from his ‘Songs for Ariel’ and Frank Martin’s ‘Full Fathom Five’ are heard alongside Sylvia Plath’s ‘Full Fathom Five’ and a passage from James Joyce’s novel ‘Ulysses’ in which Stephen Dedalus, often seen as Joyce’s Hamlet, walks along the shore where the rhythm of the waves returns him to memories of a drowned man in the bay. His language, never far from Shakespeare, echoes Ariel’s Song. Thisinterior monologue is heard alongside the Berceuse and Ariel’s Song from Sibelius’ ‘The Tempest’. As a reviewer at the time wrote, ‘Shakespeare and Sibelius, these two geniuses, have finally found one another’.






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