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Texts and music exploring the feeling of being trapped, with readings by Kate Phillips and Tobias Menzies. With Defoe, Orwell and Flaubert, plus Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

Today's Words and Music explores the feeling of being trapped, both physically and emotionally. Moll Flanders, Casanova and Alan Bennett's Lady of Letters are all incarcerated in prison. Others, such as Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male and Julia and Winston in Orwell's 1984, are almost as constricted by their circumstances. And for some the entrapment is emotional; Emma Bovary and Mr Rochester are both miserable in their marriages, and desperate to be with the person they really love. Includes music by Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Queen. Extracts are read by Kate Phillips and Tobias Menzies.

Producer - Ellie Mant.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 15 May 2016 17:30

Music Played

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

  • Joseph Heller

    Catch 22, read by Kate Phillips

  • 00:00

    Ruggero Leoncavallo

    Pagliacci; Stridono Lassu

    Performer: Daniela Dessi (Nedda), Philadelphia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti (conductor).
    • PHILIPS 4341312.
    • Tr9.
  • Charlotte Bronte

    Jane Eyre, read by Tobias Menzies

  • 00:04

    Bernard Herrmann

    Jane Eyre Prelude (excerpt)

    Performer: Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Adriano (conductor).
    • MARCO POLO 8223535.
    • Tr1.
  • 00:06

    Tchaikovsky arr Hough


    Performer: Stephen Hough (piano).
    • HYPERION CDA677112.
    • CD1 tr6.
  • Elizabeth Jennings

    Prisoner, read by Kate Phillips

  • Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm trans DL Ashliman

    Rapunzel, read by Tobias Menzies

  • 00:08

    Claude Debussy

    Pelleas et Melisande; Mes longs cheveux (excerpt)

    Performer: Colette Alliot-Lugaz (Melisande), Didier Henry (Pelleas), Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit (conductor).
    • DECCA 4305022.
    • CD1 tr16.
  • Gustave Flaubert trans Geoffrey Wall

    Madame Bovary, read by Kate Phillips

  • 00:14

    Henry Purcell

    The Fairy Queen; Sure the dull god of marriage does not hear

    Performer: Les Arts Florissants, William Christie (conductor).
    • HARMONIA MUNDI HMC90130809.
    • CD2 tr21.
  • Oscar Wilde

    Ballade of Reading Gaol, read by Tobias Menzies

  • 00:18

    Franz Liszt

    Nuages gris

    Performer: Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano).
    • DG 4779439.
    • CD1 tr3.
  • 00:21

    Alan Ridout

    Cello Concerto no.3 – The Prisoner (excerpt)

    Performer: Gerard Leclerc (cello), English Chamber Orchestra, Stephen Barlow (conductor).
    • BLACK BOX BBM1037.
    • Tr7.
  • Daniel Defoe

    Moll Flanders, read by Kate Phillips

  • Geoffrey Household

    Rogue Male, read by Tobias Menzies

  • 00:25

    John Dowland

    In darkness let me dwell

    Performer: Paul Agnew (tenor), Christopher Wilson (lute).
    • Tr2.
  • 00:30

    Edward MacDowell

    Lamia (excerpt)

    Performer: London Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Klein (conductor).
    • EMI CDC7492632.
    • Tr3.
  • John Keats

    Lamia, read by Kate Phillips

  • George Orwell

    1984, read by Tobias Menzies

  • 00:39

    1984; Winston’s Diary

    • VIRGIN CDVOP135.
    • Tr4.
  • Lewis Carroll

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, read by Kate Phillips

  • 00:41

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Fidelio; O welche Lust

    Performer: Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado (conductor).
    • DECCA 4782551.
    • CD1 tr18.
  • Edwin Brock

    Song of the battery hen, read by Tobias Menzies

  • 00:49


    I Want To Break Free

    • PARLOPHONE CDP7979712.
    • Tr5.
  • Alan Bennett

    A Lady of Letters, read by Kate Phillips

  • 00:54

    Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

    The Proud Prisoner - sinfonia

    Performer: Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana, Marcello Panni (conductor).
    • BONGIOVANNI GB2221222.
    • CD1 tr1.
  • Jacques Casanova de Seingalt trans Arthur Machen

    The memoirs of Casanova, read by Tobias Menzies

  • 00:59

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Don Giovanni - overture

    Performer: Norwegian National Opera Orchestra, Rinaldo Alessandrini (conductor).
    • NAÏVE OP30479.
    • Tr15.
  • George Eliot

    In a London Drawing Room, read by Kate Phillips

  • 01:06

    Gabriel Fauré


    Performer: Christopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano).
    • HYPERION CDA67334.
    • Tr18.
  • William Shakespeare

    Sonnet 133, read by Tobias Menzies

  • 01:09

    Rebecca Clarke

    I’ll bid my heart be still

    Performer: Avril Piston (viola), Shamonia Harpa (piano).
    • GUILD GMCD7275.
    • Tr17.

Producer's Note - Trapped

Today’s Words and Music explores the feeling of being trapped, both physically and emotionally. For some the confinement is prison; Moll Flanders’ luck has finally run out and has been sent to Newgate, and Casanova is busily planning his real-life escape. (Alan Bennett’s Lady of Letters is unusual in that prison suits her so well that it actually gives her a first taste of freedom!)  Oscar Wilde wrote his Ballade of Reading Gaol after having seen a prisoner hanged there during his own incarceration, and Elizabeth Jennings dwells on the loneliness of the prisoner. For some the situation is so constricting that they might as well be in prison. Julia and Winston in Orwell’s 1984 know that it’s only a matter of time before their illicit relationship is discovered, and Edwin Brock’s battery hen is making the best of its rotten circumstances. Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male has literally gone to ground to escape his enemy, and Alice isn’t faring well in Wonderland after growing so big that she can’t get out of the White Rabbit’s house. The feeling of being trapped can be emotional rather than physical.  Emma Bovary is adored by her husband, but is bored to distraction by him. Mr Rochester is trapped by marriage too, after being tricked into a union with the mad Berthe Mason.

Some extracts had obvious musical parallels. Catch 22 means that Joseph Heller’s Orr can’t get out of flying dangerous missions, while Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci is desperate to fly like the birds to escape her loveless marriage. Rapunzel lets her hair tumble down from the top of her tower which reminded me of Melisande letting her hair down to Pelleas in Debussy’s opera . Keats tells the Greek myth of Lamia, an enchantress trapped in serpent form, which was in turn the inspiration for Edward MacDowell’s symphonic poem of the same name. And Casanova has an obvious parallel with another notorious seducer, Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Producer – Ellie Mant


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