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Tamsin Greig and Tom Hollander uncork a celebration of the joys and pitfalls of wine, including texts by Shakespeare, Chaucer and Baudelaire, with music from Offenbach, Mahler and Frank Martin.

Release date:

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Christmas Day 2016 17:30

Producer's Note

Join Tom Hollander and Tamsin Greig for a festive glass of wine in the company of a wide range of writers and composers.

In the prologue to his Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes a table of strangers gathered round a tavern table, the sole connection between them their love of wine.  Shakespeare’s Falstaff tells all who will listen of the stimulating and fortifying properties of sack, a precursor to sherry while, in Sense and Sensibility, Austen’s Elinor appreciates the healing properties a glass has on pains both physical and emotional.  Li Po, Baudelaire, Yeats and Joyce all praise wine: ambrosial, unifying, aphrodisiac, ecstatic.

Musical oenophilia comes from a  tipsy Bartok burlesque and the famous brindisi from Verdi’s La traviata.  Debussy evokes the Alhambra’s Wine Gate; Mahler a springtime drunkard; Offenbach, in his wonderful operetta Christopher Columbus, the Queen’s rather grim hangover.  Frank Martin’s Le vin herbe is a retelling of the story of Tristan and Isolde and the flask of wine infused with herbs in order to inflame the senses; Belshazzar orders his retinue to drink wine from the exiled jews’ sacred vessels, thus ensuring this feast is his last.  Johann Strauss’s Wine, Women and Song is kicked up a notch in Godowsky’s high-proof piano reworking, while Ibert’s Bacchanale was written sixty years ago for the tenth anniversary of the BBC Third Programme.

Now, could someone please help me find the Radio 3 corkscrew…

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