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The Bridge

The Bridge: A sequence of poetry, prose and music on the theme of bridges, with readings by Paapa Essiedu and Alice St Clair.

The Bridge - both an exhilarating leap in the dark and a feat of engineering. Bridges shape our world whether they're constructions thrown across a raging torrent or synaptic sparks that convert incomprehension into meaning. The latest RSC Hamlet, Paapa Essiedu and Alice St Clair, the star of William and Catherine: A Royal Romance, take us from West to East on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul; we join them on the fateful Tallahatchie Bridge; and brood on the rainbow bridge that inspired Wagner ; there's time too to peer into the Thames with Wordsworth or wonder at the spectres crossing it with T S Eliot. The path leads between light and dark, gravity and weightlessness and despair and hope .... a hair-raising but all-too-familiar balancing act!

Producer: Zahid Warley.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 22 Jan 2017 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    "Goldberg Variations" - Aria

    Performer: Rosalyn Tureck.
    • Albany TROY007.
    • Tr1.
  • Geert Mak

    First sight of the Galata Bridge, read by Paapa Essiedu

  • 00:05

    George Gershwin

    An American in Paris

    Performer: New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein (conductor).
    • Sony Classical SMK47529.
    • Tr12.
  • Geert Mak

    First sight of the Galata Bridge, read by Paapa Essiedu

  • Geert Mak

    First sight of the Galata Bridge, read by Paapa Essiedu

  • W. H. Auden

    As I walked out one Evening, read by Alice St Clair-Erskine

  • 00:15

    Léo Ferré/Apollinaire

    Le Pont Mirabeau

    Performer: Léo Ferré.
    • Documents 600327.
    • CD1 Tr4.
  • Thomas Hood

    The Bridge of Sighs, read by Paapa Essiedu

  • 00:22

    Bobbie Gentry

    Ode to Billie Joe

    Performer: Bobbie Gentry.
    • CURB 471206 2.
    • Tr1.
  • Seamus Heaney

    Scaffolding, read by Paapa Essiedu

  • 00:26

    Benjamin Britten

    Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, Op.10 - Wiener Walzer

    Performer: English Chamber Orchestra, Sir Alexander Gibson (conductor).
    • EMI CD-EMX 2111.
    • Tr7.
  • Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Leonard Cottrell

    Pont du Carrousel, read by Paapa Essiedu

  • 00:29

    Iain Chambers

    Bascule Chambers

    Performer: Docklands Sinfonia.
    • Tr1.
  • T. S. Eliot

    From The Waste Land, The Burial of the Dead, read by Alice St Clair-Erskine

  • 00:43

    Sonny Rollins

    The Bridge

    Performer: Sonny Rollins.
    • BLUEBIRD ND90633.
    • Tr4.
  • William Wordsworth

    Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802, read by Paapa Essiedu

  • 00:50

    Sally Beamish

    Bridging the Day

    Performer: Robert Irvine (Cello), Sally Beamish (Piano).
    • BIS CD-1171.
    • Tr5.
  • R. S. Thomas

    Ninetieth Birthday, read by Paapa Essiedu

  • 01:03

    Richard Wagner

    Schwüles Gedünst - aria from Das Rheingold

    Performer: Eberhard Wächter, Wiener Philharmoniker, Sir Georg Solti (conductor).
    • Decca 4780382.
    • CD2 T13.
  • Octavio Paz translated by Eliot Weinberger

    The Bridge, read by Alice St Clair-Erskine

  • 01:07

    Richard Wagner

    Rhine maiden chorus from Das Rheingold

    Performer: Oda Balsborg, Hetty Plümacher, Ira Malaniuk, Wiener Philharmoniker, Sir Georg Solti (conductor).
    • Decca 4780382.
    • CD2 Tr15.
  • Geert Mak

    From The Bridge (Last sight of the Galata Bridge), read by Alice St Clair-Erskine

  • 01:09

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Goldberg Variations, BWV 998 - Aria da capo

    Performer: Glenn Gould (piano).
    • SONY SMK 52619.
    • Tr32.

Producer's Notes: The Bridge

You know how the old joke goes – a weary and confused traveller asks a local the way to the big city only to be told - “Well, if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here.”  Bridges are a kind of answer to that kind of question though as often as not we play both the traveller and the local.  When we don’t know how to get from A to B or from A to Z we devise something - a bridge.  It can be made of stone or steel or it can be altogether weightless – one of the rope bridges the mind strings across incomprehension.

This evening’s Words and Music, with the actors Paapa Essiedu and Alice St Clair, examines the notion of the bridge and attempts to make one.  It begins with a famous musical doodle – Bach’s aria from the Goldberg Variations - and leaps from there to Istanbul’s Galata Bridge which links Europe with Asia.  It's not long before we’re waltzing along under the Pont Mirabeau with Léo Ferré, or flowing lugubriously across London Bridge with T. S. Eliot.  There’s a bit of loitering under the arch of a railway bridge while W. H. Auden cocks an ear to a lover’s song; some sighing with Thomas Hood; and a dizzy descent into the mechanical heart of Tower Bridge where Iain Chambers recorded his musique concrete composition – Bascule Chambers. You get the idea…. as E. M. Forster once famously said -- only connect.   


Producer: Zahid Warley


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