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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.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Christmas Day 2016 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Gustav Mahler

    Das Lied von der Erde

    Performer: James King, Vienna Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein.
    • Decca 4523012.
    • Tr1.
  • Chaucer

    The Canterbury Tales, read by Tamsin Greig

  • 00:05

    Béla Bartók

    Burlesque no.2 ‘Tipsy’

    Performer: Andreas Bach.
    • Hanssler 98042.
    • CD1 Tr18.
  • Joyce

    Ulysses, read by Tom Hollander

  • 00:08


    Chanson a boire

    Performer: Gerald Finley, Julius Drake.
    • Hyperion CDA67728.
    • Tr9.
  • Tolstoy

    Anna Karenina, read by Tamsin Greig

  • 00:13

    William Walton

    Belshazzar’s Feast

    Performer: John Shirley-Quirk, LSO & Chorus, Andre Previn.
    • EMI CDC7476242.
    • Tr4-6.
  • Li Po

    Drinking Alone by Moonlight, read by Tom Hollander

  • 00:22

    Gustav Mahler

    Das Lied von der Erde

    Performer: James King, Vienna Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein.
    • Decca 4523012.
    • Tr5.
  • Austen

    Sense and Sensibility, read by Tamsin Greig

  • 00:29

    Jacques Offenbach

    Isabella’s Hangover Song (Christopher Columbus)

    Performer: Anne Dawson. Ensemble: London Mozart Players. Performer: Alun Francis.
  • Yeats

    A Drinking Song, read by Tamsin Greig

  • 00:33


    Le vin herbe

    Performer: RIAS Kammerchor, Scharoun Ensemble, Daniel Reuss.
    • Harmonia Mundi HMC90193536.
    • CD1, Tr4.
  • Dahl

    Taste, read by Tom Hollander

  • 00:43

    Claude Debussy

    La puerta del Vino

    Performer: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.
    • Chandos CHAN10421.
    • Tr15.
  • Baudelaire

    The Soul of Wine, read by Tamsin Greig

  • 00:48


    Libiamonne’lieti calici (La Traviata)

    Performer: Placido Domingo, Bavarian State Opera Chorus & Orchestra, Carlos Kleiber.
    • DG 4293052.
    • Tr7.
  • 00:51


    Symphonic Metamorphosis on Wine, Women and Song

    Performer: Marc-André Hamelin.
    • Hyperion CDA67626.
    • Tr12.
  • Shakespeare

    Henry IV Part Two, read by Tom Hollander

  • 01:05



    Performer: CBSO, Louis Fremaux.
    • EMI CDC7492612.
    • Tr8.

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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