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The Long and Winding Road

Words and Music on the theme of The Long and Winding Road with readers Claire Rushbrooke and Paul Higgins.

Roads join the here and the there, the past and the present, the known and the unknown. They provide that important interim stage when change lies ahead. With readers Claire Rushbrooke and Paul Higgins, we'll go wandering down all sorts of roads, from the Road of the Wanderer to the Road of Paradise, with a selection of poetry and prose by Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, Nelson Mandela and Christina Rossetti among others. The musical accompaniment to our ramble comes courtesy of Vaughan Williams, Janacek, Haydn and The Hollies.

Producer: Dominic Wells.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 15 Apr 2018 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Songs of Travel: The Vagabond

    Performer: Bryn Terfel (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano).
    • DG 4459462.
    • Tr1.
  • Thomas Hardy

    The Wanderer, read by Paul Higgins

  • 00:00

    Franz Schubert arr. N. Forget

    Winterreise: Der Wegweiser

    Performer: Christoph Pregardien (tenor), Joseph Petric (accordion), Pentaèdre (ensemble).
    • ATMA ACD22546.
    • Tr16.
  • Robert Morris

    Tarrying in the Shade, read by Claire Rushbrook

  • 00:00

    Joby Talbot

    Path of Miracles: Leon

    Performer: Tenebrae, Nigel Short (conductor).
    • SIGNUM SIGCD078.
    • Tr3.
  • George Edward Woodberry

    30, read by Paul Higgins

  • 00:00

    Joseph Haydn

    Symphony No. 59 ‘Fire’: 4th mvt

    Performer: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Frans Bruggen (conductor).
    • PHILIPS 4627032.
    • Tr17.
  • Nelson Mandela

    Long Walk to Freedom (excerpt), read by Paul Higgins

  • 00:00

    Enoch Mankayi Sontonga

    Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica

    Performer: Arne Church (Africa).
    • Tr9.
  • 00:00

    Andrjez Panufnik


    Performer: London Symphony Orchestra, Andrjez Panufnik (conductor).
    • Tr2.
  • Rachel Hadas

    The Road, read by Claire Rushbrook

  • Josephine Peabody

    Road Songs, read by Paul Higgins

  • 00:00

    Bobby Scott and Bob Russell

    He ain’t heavy He’s my brother

    Performer: The Hollies.
    • EMI 7243 5 20130 2 9.
    • Tr16.
  • William Blake

    The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (excerpt), read by Claire Rushbrook

  • 00:00

    Oliver Knussen

    The Way to Castle Yonder (excerpt)

    Performer: London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen (conductor).
    • DG 4495722.
    • Tr4.
  • Robert Frost

    The Road not Taken, read by Paul Higgins

  • 00:00

    Leos Janáček

    On an Overgrown Path: In Tears

    Performer: Charles Owen (piano).
    • SOMM 028.
    • Tr11.
  • John Gay

    The Art of Walking the Streets of London, Book 3: Of Walking the Streets by Night, read by Claire Rushbrook

  • 00:00

    Igor Stravinsky

    Oedipus rex, Act II (excerpt)

    Performer: Jennifer Johnson (mezzo-soprano), London Symphony Orchestra, John Eliot Gardiner (conductor).
    • LSO LIVE LSO0751.
    • Tr4.
  • Henry Clarence Kendall

    To Damascus (excerpt), read by Paul Higgins

  • 00:00

    Anders Hillborg

    O dessa ogon

    Performer: Hannah Holgersson (soprano), Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo (conductor).
    • BIS 2114.
    • Tr2.
  • Minna Irving

    Marching Still, read by Claire Rushbrook

  • 00:00

    Ivor Novello

    Keep the Home-Fires Burning

    Performer: Steven Isserlis (cello), Connie Shih (piano).
    • BIS 2312.
    • Tr14.
  • Aubrey Thomas De Vere

    The Meeting on Calvary, read by Claire Rushbrook

  • 00:00

    Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

    Stabat mater: Quis est homo

    Performer: Barbara Bonney (soprano), Andreas Scholl (counter-tenor), Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset (conductor).
    • DECCA 4661342.
    • Tr5.
  • Gaius Valerius Catullus 

    A Home-Coming, long ago, read by Paul Higgins

  • 00:01

    Antonín Dvořák

    Goin’ Home

    Performer: Alisa Weilerstein (cello), Anna Polonsky (piano).
    • DECCA 478 5705.
    • Tr6.
  • Christina Rosetti

    Saints and Angels, read by Claire Rushbrook

  • 00:01

    William Harris

    Faire is the Heaven

    Performer: Choir of Westminster Cathedral, James O’Donnell (conductor).
    • HYPERION CDA66669.
    • Tr6.

Words and Music: The Long and Winding Road

Producer Notes

The subject of roads appealed to me for its breadth, permitting interpretations both literal and metaphorical. Roads take us from one place to another, from one stage of life to another, from one level of perception to another. For that, we should be grateful, for change is rarely comfortable, and roads provide that important intermediary stage to help us prepare – where preparation is possible – for whatever lies ahead.

We begin by stepping upon The Road of the Wanderer (Vaughan Williams and Schubert), after which our wanderer finds himself upon The Road of Pilgrimage, Leon being one of four places of pilgrimage that inspired Joby Talbot to write his virtuosic choral work Path of Miracles. The Road to Enlightenment is portrayed by one of the quintessential Enlightenment composers, Haydn, and it seemed appropriate to follow this with words from one of the most enlightened figures of recent times, Nelson Mandela, whose Road to Freedom – his long walk to freedom – tested the human spirit to its limits.

Panufnik provides the musical Landscape for The Deserted Road, while The Long and Winding Road could only be represented by one song: the Hollies’ 1969 classic He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother. More sinister roads follow: The Perilous Road with poetry by William Blake, coupled with music by Oliver Knussen; and the Untrodden Road with Robert Frost’s The Road not Taken, which instantly made me think of Janacek’s piano cycle On An Overgrown Path to accompany the traveller in this unknown territory. 

Two ancient stories, both concerning eyes, take us down the next pair of roads, with Stravinsky’s retelling of the ancient myth of Oedipus, who unwittingly killed his father at a crossroads; while Paul’s new vision on the road to Damascus is accompanied by Hillborg’s O Dessa Ogon (O Those Eyes).

The next two roads are laced with tragedy, referring to a mother’s grief at the loss of her son/s: the Road to War, and the Road to Calvary. But while roads can be daunting, they can also offer comfort, and the sheer joy of the Road Home is expressed rapturously by the ancient Roman poet Catullus. Having returned home, there is just one more road to take, the last leg of this musical journey: the Road to Paradise. Christina Rosetti’s repetitions of ‘faire’ in the third stanza of Saints and Angels led me to William Harris’ Faire is the Heaven. 

 Producer: Dominic Wells


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