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April Showers

A celebration in anticipation of precipitation. Music includes works by Chopin, Britten and Copland, readings come from Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen and George Mackay Brown read by Lucian Msamati and Lisa Dillon.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Frédéric Chopin

    Prelude No.15

    Performer: Martha Argerich.
    • DG 4158362.
    • Tr15.
  • Shakespeare

    Twelth Night, read by Lucian Msamati

  • 00:02

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    The Tempest

    Performer: Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel.
    • DG 4779355.
    • Tr2.
  • Anon

    The Book of Genesis, read by Lucian Msamati

  • 00:07

    Igor Stravinsky

    The Flood

    Performer: London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen.
    • DG 4470682.
    • Tr3.
  • Anon

    The Book of Genesis, read by Lisa Dillon

  • 00:12

    Igor Stravinsky

    The Flood

    Performer: London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen.
    • DG 4470682.
    • Tr6.
  • Austen

    Pride and Prejudice, read by Lisa Dillon

  • 00:17

    Frédéric Chopin

    Prelude No.15

    Performer: Martha Argerich.
    • DG 4158362.
    • Tr15.
  • Hughes

    April Rain Song, read by Lucian Msamati

  • 00:23


    Ain’t Got No Tears Left

    Performer: Cleo Lane, Michael Tilson Thomas.
    • DG 4375162.
    • Tr17.
  • Mackay Brown

    Greenvoe, read by Lisa Dillon

  • 00:29

    Peter Maxwell Davies

    Naxos Quartet no.5 (Lighthouses of Orkney and Shetland)

    Performer: Maggini Quartet.
    • Naxos 8557398.
    • Tr1.
  • Lewis

    All Day it has Rained, read by Lucian Msamati

  • 00:39


    The Heart’s Assurance: Compassion

    Performer: John Mark Ainsley, Iain Burnside.
    • Signum SIGCD066.
    • Tr3.
  • Sitwell

    Still Falls the Rain, read by Lucian Msamati

  • 00:45

    Benjamin Britten

    We are the darkness

    Performer: Neil Mackie, Roger Vignoles.
    • EMI CDC7492572.
    • tr3.
  • 00:46

    Frédéric Chopin

    The Four Seasons: Summer

    Performer: Neville Marriner. Performer: Alan Loveday. Orchestra: Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
    • Decca.
    • 4786883.
    • 4.
  • Dickinson

    Summer Shower, read by Lisa Dillon

  • 00:58


    Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

    Performer: Burt Bacharach.
    • A&M CD3159.
    • Tr5.
  • Longfellow

    Rain in Summer, read by Lisa Dillon

  • 01:01

    Aaron Copland

    The Second Hurricane

    Performer: NYPO, Leonard Bernstein.
    • Sony SMK60560.
    • Tr2.
  • Vaughan

    The Shower, read by Lisa Dillon

  • 01:05

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony no.6 (Pastoral)

    Performer: Gewandhausorchester, Riccardo Chailly.
    • Decca 4782721.
    • CD3, Tr9.
  • Hardy

    Rain on a Grave, read by Lucian Msamati

  • 01:09

    Benjamin Britten

    Peter Grimes: Storm Interlude

    Performer: ROHCG, Benjamin Britten.
    • Decca 4256592.
    • Tr5.

Producer's Note

If erigenia is ‘the harbinger of spring’, it can only be because it is nourished and kissed into life by that other harbinger of spring, April showers.  The nightclub singer of Bernstein’s Ain’t got no tears left (here none other than Cleo Lane) knows this, as did Henry Vaughan in his poem The Shower.  Langston Hughes loves the April rain; for WW2 poet Alun Lewis it’s just one more grey aspect to the doomed monotony of combat; for George Mackay Brown’s character Mrs McKee it’s the catalyst that leads to a heartbreaking secret that will haunt her entire life.

Only Noah, his family and just two of every species are spared God’s wrath in the Flood from the Book of Genesis, accompanied here by spiky music Stravinsky wrote for a ‘60s TV version.  In Pride and Prejudice, beautiful Jane Bennet foolishly treks cross-country in the rain and succumbs to a remarkably precipitous cold the next morning; Chopin’s health was certainly not helped by his sojourn in soggy Mallorca with George Sand, a stay which nevertheless resulted in his set of 24 Preludes.

Thomas Hardy is moved by rain falling on his wife’s grave, while Emily Dickinson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow delight in its rejuvenating qualities.  Musical storms come from Britten’s Peter Grimes, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Copland’s kids’ opera The Second Hurricane.

Now don’t forget your umbrella…


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