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Such Sweet Sadness

A sequence of texts and music, with readings by Siobhan Redmond and Harry Anton. With AA Milne, James, Shakespeare and Maupassant, plus Schumann, Strauss, Brahms and Stolzel.

With readings from the actors Siobhan Redmond and Harry Anton - today's programme features the music of Schumann, Strauss, Brahms and Stozel, Paul Clayton and the Modern Jazz Quartet plus prose from A A Milne to Henry James, from Shakespeare to Guy de Maupassant, plus Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde, James Thompson and Charlotte Smith.

The voice of the nightingale and the lonely impulse of delight, embroidered with the sentimental and sublime, for lovers young and lovers old and those who sigh as they smile and look to die upon a kiss.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 18 Jun 2017 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Robert Schumann

    Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär (Op. 43 Nr.1)

    Performer: Angelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano); Barbara Bonney (soprano); Malcolm Martineau (piano).
    • Sony Classical SK93133.
    • Tr13.
  • Shakespeare

    Romeo and Juliet, read by Harry Anton

  • 00:01

    Arvo Pärt

    Spiegel im Spiegel

    Performer: Tasmin Little (violin); Martin Roscoe (piano).
    • VIRGIN VTDCD408.
    • Tr8.
  • Shakespeare

    Extract ‘Romeo and Juliet’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • Shakespeare

    Extract ‘Romeo and Juliet’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • Guy de Maupassant

    Extract ‘One Phase of Love’ read by Harry Anton

  • Guy de Maupassant

    Extract ‘One Phase of Love’ read by Harry Anton

  • Shakespeare

    Extract ‘Romeo and Juliet’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • 00:05

    Igor Stravinsky

    Chant du Rossignol (Excerpt)

    Performer: Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz (Conductor).
    • Delos DE 1601.
    • Tr12.
  • Charlotte Smith

    Sonnet 52: To a Nightingale read by Siobhan Redmond

  • 00:07

    Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

    The Rose And The Nightingale Op.2 No.2

    Performer: Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano); London Philharmonic Orchestra; Mstislav Rostropovich (Conductor).
    • EMI Classics 7243 5 65716 2 4.
    • CD2 Tr2.
  • R. S. Thomas

    Song read by Harry Anton

  • 00:10

    Joe ‘King’ Oliver; Clarence Williams (vocals)

    West End Blues

    Performer: Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five.
    • ASV CDAJA5171.
    • Tr19.
  • Jonathan Safran Foer

    Extract ‘Everything Is Illuminated’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • 00:14

    Francisco Tárrega

    Recuerdos de la Alhambra

    Performer: Julian Bream.
    • RCA RD86206.
    • Tr15.
  • A. A. Milne

    Tiddly Poem Song and reprises read by Harry Anton

  • Eduardo Galeano, Cedric Belfrage (translator)

    Extract from Genesis, ‘Juana at 4’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • 00:19

    Anon

    Shenandoah

    Performer: Paul Clayton (guitar and vocals).
    • TRADITION TCD1064.
    • Tr12.
  • Anonymous

    Bryan and Pereene: A West Indian Ballad read by Harry Anton.This tragical incident is founded on a real fact that happened in the island of St. Christopher about the beginning of the reign of George III.

  • 00:24

    Henry Purcell

    When I Am Laid in Earth (Dido’s Lament)

    Performer: The Modern Jazz Quartet: John Lewis, Swingle Singers.
    • PHILIPS 8245452.
    • Tr5.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson

    Requiem read by Harry Anton

  • 00:29

    John Rutter

    The Lord is My Shepherd Psalm 23

    Performer: The City of London Sinfonia; Quentin Poole (oboe); The Cambridge Singers; The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble; John Rutter (Conductor).
    • COLLEGIUM COLCD100.
    • Tr6.
  • Thomas Chatterton

    Extract ‘Song from Ælla: Under the Willow Tree’, or, ‘Minstrel's Roundelay’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • Robert Burns

    John Anderson, My Jo read by Siobhan Redmond

  • 00:35

    Bill Withers

    Grandma’s Hands

    Performer: Bill Withers.
    • CBS CD32343.
    • Tr8.
  • 00:37

    Heino Eller

    Tone Poem ‘Dawn’ (1918)

    Performer: John Digney (solo oboe); Scottish National Orchestra; Neeme Järvi (Conductor).
    • CHANDOS CHAN8525.
    • Tr7.
  • George McKay Brown

    Extract 1 ‘The Year of the Whale’ read by Harry Anton

  • George McKay Brown

    Extract 2 ‘The Year of the Whale’ read by Harry Anton

  • William Wordsworth

    Extract 1 ‘Intimations of Immortality’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • William Wordsworth

    Extract 2 ‘Intimations of Immortality’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • Thomas Hardy

    Extract ‘Afterwards’ read by Harry Anton

  • A. A. Milne

    Tiddly Pom Song and reprise read by Siobhan Redmond

  • 00:45

    Georges Abel Louis Auric; Arthur Laurents

    Bonjour Tristesse

    Performer: Juliette Gréco.
    • El ACMEM197CD.
    • Tr1.
  • 00:49

    Alfred Newman

    I'm Sad And I'm Lonely (Outtake)

    Performer: MGM Studio Orchestra.
    • Rhino Movie Music R2 72458.
    • CD2 Tr4.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson

    Poem extract 1 ‘Love’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • Henry James

    Prose extract 1 ‘Portrait of a Lady’ read by Harry Anton

  • Henry James

    Prose extract 2 ‘Portrait of a Lady’ read by Harry Anton

  • Robert Louis Stevenson

    Poem extract 2 ‘Love’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • 00:52

    Guillaume de Machaut

    Mon cuer, ma suer from Le Livre du Voir-Dit (J-PR)

    Performer: Jean-Paul Racodon (reader).
    • BRILLIANT 94217.
    • CD2 Tr20.
  • 00:53

    Trad.

    Lais from the Roman de Tristan

    Performer: Frances Kelly.
    • AMON RA CDSAR36.
    • Tr1.
  • Algernon Charles Swinburne

    Poem extract ‘Tristram of Lyonesse’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • Matthew Arnold

    Poem extract ‘Tristram and Iseult’ read by Harry Anton

  • Matthew Arnold

    Poem extract ‘Tristram and Iseult’ read by Harry Anton

  • 00:56

    Trad.

    A Vous Tristan

    Performer: Ensemble Gilles Binchois; Anne-Marie Lablaude (soprano); Dominique Vellard (Conductor).
    • GLOSSA GCD P32304.
    • Tr15.
  • 01:01

    Enrico Toselli, André Rieu (Arranger)

    Nightingale Serenade

    Performer: The Johann Strauss Orchestra, André Rieu (Conductor).
    • Polydor ?06024 9874091 0.
    • Tr1.
  • Oscar Wilde

    Prose extract ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’ read by Siobhan Redmond

  • 01:05

    Richard Strauss

    Im Abendrot

    Performer: Kiri Te Kanawa (soprano); London Symphony Orchestra; Andrew Davis (Conductor).
    • CBS CD76794.
    • Tr4.
  • Joseph Warton

    Ode to the Nightingale read by Harry Anton

Producer's Note: Such Sweet Sadness

The nightingales will sing no more this year but Such Sweet Sadness is in memory of these shy songsters, a muse to music makers and poets alike for many hundred years.  The eighteenth century poets James Thompson and Charlotte Smith wrote of their tales of love and liberty… their  tales of tender woe offered to the moon and lovers alike, while Rimsky-Korsakov composed the passionate love-song of a nightingale enslaved by a rose… and Robert Schumann’s little bird will do whatever it takes to find his mate. 

Human stories are nearly always about one thing, death, the certainty of death – so said J. R. R. Tolkien… perhaps that’s why we like a sad story so… as long as it’s not too close in experience or time.  So Such Sweet Sadness is full of legends, of young lovers doomed not to grow old, Romeo and Juliet, Tristram and Iseult, Bryan and Pereene;  the poignancy of an old couple finally separated, the acceptance of death at the end of long life – Robert Burns’ John Anderson my Jo and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Hunter home from the hill -  and that idea that seems to belong to all human civilisation, the belief that once there was a Golden Age where we found our soul mate… far off in time, never to come again and yet holding a promise that there is more… just beyond our reach and far above our mundane senses…

 As I found the prose and poetry and music on offer here, it struck me how sweet sadness acts like a mirror – hence Arvo Pärt’s Spiegl im Spiegl and a book-ending of nightingales.  Sweet Sadness is a sadness which does not hurt bitterly.  It reflects the real world back to us but in bearable fashion… we sigh and weep over people who have endured what we have never experienced but whose immortality we envy… in much the same way that as we get older we look back to our own childhoods with misty eyes and watch our children with passionate tenderness for they do not yet know what we know and their small sorrows are ones we can do something about… Tiddly Pom.

So time to wallow and perhaps, just occasionally, laugh at ourselves and the kind of sadness we enjoy… as Jonathan Safran Foer has written “you cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness” so time to experience both at once.  Let us imagine ourselves the nightingale, enslaved by a rose.  

Producer: Jacqueline Smith

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