Sunday 6 February 2011

Jacobson and Mabey

There was a double treat on the radio this morning, with Howard Jacobson - always good value - on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, immediately followed by the great 'nature writer' Richard Mabey on Radio 3's upmarket version of DID - Private Passions. The focus of PP is firmly on the music rather than the life, though Mabey did speak a little of his schooldays (Berkhamstead, unhappy, musical) and the bout of depression so eloquently described in Nature Cure. His choice of music was extremely wide-ranging and full of wonderful unexpected sounds, from a beautiful Dowland love song to full-throated Corsican male polyphony, Butterworth's heartbreaking Is My Team Ploughing? and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in full flow. But the most extraordinary sound of all was David Rothenberg, author of Why Birds Sings and a jazz clarinettist, improvising over the song of that jazziest of British birds, a Marsh Warbler. I haven't been able to find a (free) link to the piece itself - it's called Soo-Roo - but you can hear the Private Passions programme on the BBC iPlayer here. Mabey fans (I'm one) won't want to miss it.

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