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The Uncanny

Morfydd Clark and Arinze Kene with some familiar and some distinctly unsettling readings and music. Follow an uncanny thread linking Poe, Britten, Miles Davis and Stevie Smith.

A programme exploring both the familiar and the eerie in music and readings, which are performed by actors Morfydd Clark and Arinzé Kene. The idea of the uncanny is associated with a sense of being unsettled and Freud published an essay in 1919 - Das Unheimliche - in which he looked at horror, disgust and idea of hidden and repressed experiences and emotions. This selection of words and music takes listeners on a path through stories, poems and sounds by Edgar Allan Poe, Benjamin Britten, Miles Davis and Stevie Smith among others.

Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 6 May 2018 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Hector Berlioz

    Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 – Songe d’une nuit du Sabbat

    Performer: Berliner Philharmoniker, Daniel Barenboim (Conductor).
    • CBS CD39859.
    • Tr5.
  • Dannie Abse

    The Uninvited, read by Arinze Kene

  • 00:00

    The Residents

    On The Way (To Oklahoma)

    Performer: The Residents.
    • Mute STUMM 247.
    • CD1 Tr1.
  • 00:02

    Benjamin Britten

    The Turn of the Screw: Variation III – Scene 4: The Tower

    Performer: Camilla Tilling (Soprano), London Philharmonic Orchestra, Edward Gardner (Conductor).
    • CD1 Tr5.
  • Robert Frost

    Ghost House, read by Morfydd Clark

  • 00:09

    Léo Delibes

    Coppélia – Acte Deux – Scène I - Scène et valse de la poupée

    Performer: National Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (Conductor).
    • DECCA 4145022.
    • CD2 Tr3.
  • 00:13

    György Ligeti

    Lux Aeterna

    Choir: Stuttgart Schola Cantorum. Conductor: Clytus Gottwald.
    • EMI CDODEON28.
    • Tr11.
  • Edgar Allan Poe

    The Fall of the House of Usher, read by Arinze Kene

  • Elizabeth Bishop

    Some Dreams They Forgot, read by Morfydd Clark

  • 00:20

    Franz Schubert

    Schwanengesang - Der Doppelgänger

    Performer: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Gerald Moore (piano).
    • ORFEO C294921.
    • Tr6.
  • Catherine Smith

    Original Residents, read by Arinze Kene (taken from Lip, published by Smith Doorstop, 2007)   

  • 00:26

    Claude Debussy

    String Quartet in G minor – 2. Scherzo

    Performer: Quartetto Italiano.
    • PHILIPS 4208942.
    • Tr2.
  • Robert Graves

    Welsh Incident, read by Morfydd Clark

  • 00:33

    Jacques Offenbach

    Tales of Hoffmann – Acte I – ‘Les oiseaux dans la charmille’

    Performer: Renée Doria (Soprano), Choir and Orchestra of the Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique, André Cluytens (Conductor).
    • PAPERBACK OPERA 20004.
    • CD1 Tr11.
  • Lionel Fogarty

    Weather Comes, read by Arinze Kene

  • 00:41

    Miles Davis

    Great Expectations

    Performer: Miles Davis.
    • Columbia COL 516251 2.
    • CD2 Tr3.
  • Vernon Scannell

    The Visitation, read by Morfydd Clark

  • 00:47

    Igor Stravinsky

    Petrushka - Scene 2: Petrushka’s Room

    Performer: Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky (Conductor).
    • Sony 88697103112.
    • CD2 Tr5.
  • D. H. Lawrence

    Bat, read by Arinze Kene - Taken from The Cambridge Edition of the Works of D. H. Lawrence: The Poems (c) 2013 published by CUP, Reproduced by permission of Paper Lion Ltd and the Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli (the proprietor)

  • 00:53

    Salvatore Sciarrino

    Caprices for violin – 4: Volubile

    Performer: Marco Rogliano (violin).
    • ACCORD 202862.
    • Tr4.
  • 00:54

    György Ligeti

    Overture: Atmospheres

    Orchestra: Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Ernest Bour.
    • EMI CDODEON28.
    • Tr1.
  • Sarah Waters

    The Little Stranger, read by Morfydd Clark

  • Edmund Blunden

    Illusions, read by Arinze Kene

  • 00:57

    Franz Schubert

    Der Doppelgänger

    Performer: Vladimir Sofronitzki (piano).
    • HARMONIA MUNDI HM905169.
    • Tr9.
  • Edwin Muir

    The Horses, read by Morfydd Clark

  • 01:02

    David Bowie

    After All

    Performer: David Bowie.
    • EMI 7243 521901 0 2.
    • Tr4.
  • 01:06

    Hans Zimmer

    The Mole

    Performer: Hans Zimmer.
    • Sony Classical 88985461482.
    • Tr1.
  • W. B. Yeats

    The Apparitions, read by Arinze Kene

  • Stevie Smith

    Fairy Story, read by Morfydd Clark

  • 01:08

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Don Giovanni Act 2, Scene 5 – Don Giovanni, a cenar teco

    Performer: Roger Soyer (Baritone), Peter Lagger (Bass), Geraint Evans (Bass), English Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim (Conductor).
    • EMI CMS7639762.
    • CD3 Tr8.
  • 01:11

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Don Giovanni Act 2, Scene 5 – Da qual tremore insolito

    Performer: Roger Soyer (Baritone), Peter Lagger (Bass), Geraint Evans (Bass), English Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim (Conductor).
    • EMI CMS7639762.
    • CD3 Tr9.

Producer's Notes: The Uncanny

[I found the following notes in my junk mail folder, apparently sent from my own email address.  I had never read them before.  I have no recollection of writing them.  They proved invaluable in constructing this programme]

Das Unheimliche


Déjà vu




Ventriloquist’s dummy

Deserted villages

Sense of being watched




The appearance of life in the inanimate – Olympia in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann (adapted from Freud’s original source) and Delibes’s Coppélia.  The Statue comes to life and drags Don Giovanni to hell.

The sense that our homes – safe and comforting - carry echoes of those who occupied them before us – eerie, unknowable - Original Residents (Catherine Smith).  Deserted buildings shelter these memories more vividly – the fragment of wallpaper, broken furniture - Ghost House/Robert Frost.

Some ghost stories – Turn of the Screw (Henry James), The Little Stranger (Sarah Waters) – especially at a point when source of phenomena is still ambiguous.

Elements that make music unsettling.  Tritone (Debussy’s String Quartet).  Shepard tone – sense of infinite rising or falling scale – all over Hans Zimmer’s Dunkirk and Inception scores.   Incorporating minor 3rd into major key melody.  Progression that doesn’t resolve. (What makes Great Expectations by Miles Davis feel like it does?)


Producer: Torquil MacLeod


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