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Texts and music about pastoral landscapes, with readers Fiona Shaw and Jamie Glover. Including Wordsworth, Dickinson and Thoreau, plus Vaughan Williams, Copland, Ravel and Debussy.

Fiona Shaw and Jamie Glover with poetry, prose and music exploring the vision of Arcadia and harmony with nature across the centuries from the pastoral visions of the Ancient Greeks Virgil and Theocritus to the anxieties of the American environmentalist Rachel Carson in 'Silent Spring', Stephen Spender's exploration of technology coming to an English landscape largely unchanged in centuries and Robinson Jeffers's 'Carmel Point' in which he imagines a time when nature and man can live in harmony. Arcadia includes work by Vaughan Williams, Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson, Virgil Thomson, Debussy, Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Thoreau, Evelyn Waugh, Willa Cather and John Clare.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 16 Jul 2017 18:00

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Benedetto Marcello

    Quando penso agl’affanni

    Performer: Accademia Bizantia directed by Ottavio Dantone.
    • Decca 4702962.
    • 4.
  • Virgil and Cecil Day-Lewis

    Georgics I read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:02

    Antonín Dvořák

    Symphony no 8 – Allegretto grazioso

    Performer: Symphoniorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks conducted by Rafael Kubelik.
    • Orfeo C595031.
    • 7.
  • Theocritus and Thelma Sargent

    Idyll 7 read by Jamie Glover

  • Virgil and Cecil Day-Lewis

    Georgics 3 read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:10

    Claude Debussy

    Chansons de Bilitis – La flute de Pan

    Performer: Veronique Gens and Roger Vignoles.
    • Virgin Classics VC5453602.
    • 9.
  • 00:13

    Aaron Copland

    Down a Country Lane

    Performer: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Hugh Wolff.
    • Teldec 9031773102.
    • 11.
  • John Muir

    from Our Forests and National Parks read by Jamie Glover

  • 00:16

    Gabriel Fauré

    Après un rêve

    Performer: Nicola Benedetti and Alexi Grynyuk.
    • Deutsche Grammophon 4763399.
    • 8.
  • 00:19

    Maurice Ravel

    Daphnis et Chloé

    Performer: Florian Uhlig.
    • Hanssler CD93318.
    • 8.
  • Emily Dickinson

    Summer Shower read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:22

    Olivier Messiaen

    Catalogue d'oiseaux

    Performer: Martin Zehn.
    • Arte Nova 74321721222.
    • 3.
  • William Wordsworth

    from The Prelude read by Jamie Glover

  • 00:24

    Owen Leech

    When the moon rises…..

    Performer: The Schubert Ensemble.
    • NMC NMCD075.
    • 13.
  • 00:28

    Ralph Vaughan Williams

    The Water Mill

    Performer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson and The Duke Quartet.
    • Collins Classics 14882.
    • 4.
  • John Clare

    Farmer’s Boy read by Fiona Shaw

  • Henry David Thoreau

    from Walden read by Jamie Glover

  • 00:33

    Virgil Thomson

    Louisiana Story

    Performer: The New London Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp.
    • Helios CDH55169.
    • 7.
  • Willa Cather

    from My Antonia read by Fiona Shaw

  • Rachel Carson

    from Silent Spring read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:41

    Joni Mitchell

    Big Yellow Taxi

    Performer: Joni Mitchell.
    • Reprise K244085.
    • 10.
  • Evelyn Waugh

    from Brideshead Revisited read by Jamie Glover

  • 00:45

    Claude Debussy

    Sonate - Pastorale

    Performer: Aurèle Nicolet, Nobuko Imai and Naoko Yoshino.
    • Philips 4420122.
    • 7.
  • Stephen Spender

    The Pylons read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:53

    Toru Takemitsu

    Toward the Sea – The Night

    Performer: Aureole.
    • Koch 374492.
    • 7.
  • Robinson Jeffers

    Carmel Point read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:57

    Howard Hanson

    Symphony no 2

    Performer: Seattle Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz.
    • Delos DCD3073.
    • 6.
  • Richard Jeffries

    from The Amateur Poacher read by Jamie Glover

  • 01:04

    Ralph Vaughan Williams

    The Lark Ascending

    Performer: London Symphony Orchestra with Michael Davis conducted by Richard Hickox.
    • Chandos CHAN6611.
    • 1.

Producer's Note: Arcadia

This week we visit the pastoral landscape of Arcadia, words and music of the countryside under the summer sun with the sound of insects and birds, the perfume of grass and flowers. Writers and composers over the last two centuries have explored the idea that our modern lives are oppressive and that a return to the pastoral life offers us a chance to be where our natural needs are met. Arcadia begins with Virgil and Theocritus, Theocritus in the 3rd century BC remembering the shepherds from his young days in Sicily and Virgil setting his rural poems in the idealised Arcadia in rural Greece. Debussy’s ‘La Flûte de Pan’ sung by Véronique Gens tells the story of Pan teaching how to play as night falls in Arcadia.

The links between Arcadia and the American Dream are heard in John Muir’s passionate account of the forests and National Parks and the attempt to rebuild the rural landscape heard with Fauré’s ‘Après un Rêve’ imagining an escape from the world.

 Wordsworth’s life in ‘The Prelude’ and Owen Leech’s ‘When the Moon Rises……’ explore the idyllic English landscape alongside Ralph Vaughan Williams’ setting of the perfect life at the Water Mill and John Clare’s life of the shepherd ‘Farmer’s Boy’.

We move back to America with Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden’, the account of his two years living in the woods on the shore of Walden Pond and exploring his worries that we are losing our relationship with nature. Virgil Thomson’s ‘Louisiana Story – Arcadian Songs and Dances’ was his award-winning film score exploring man’s battle with nature and the impact of coming industrialisation on a young boy’s life heard alongside a passage from Willa Cather’s ‘My Antonia’ describing the ‘great black figure’ of the plough magnified on the horizon as the sun goes down. Twentieth century Arcadian Ecology appears in Rachel Carson’s classic ‘Silent Spring’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’.

The anxieties felt as time goes on are told in Stephen Spender’s ‘The Pylons’ and Robinson Jeffers’ ‘Carmel Point’ heard with Howard Hanson’s Second Symphony. We end with a return to England and Arcadia with Richard Jefferies’ loving memories of his early farm life in Wiltshire and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Lark Ascending’. Almost always invoked in a time of its leaving or loss the dream of Arcadia remains with us.

Producer: Fiona McLean.



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