P.D. James and J.S. Bach



English crime writer P.D. James appeared twice (1982 and 2002) on the BBC Radio program Desert Island Discs, an immensely popular and long-running show where famous people choose eight recordings, a book, and a luxury item they would take if cast away on a desert island.

James included several composers from the Renaissance and Baroque on her list of pieces, including J.S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, G.P. Telemann, W.A. Mozart, John Dowland, and Charles Dibdin.

Only J.S. Bach made the list for both appearances. Each time, a movement from the St. Matthew Passion and a “castaway’s favorite.”

In 2002, she chose the opening chorus Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen (“Come, daughters, help me lament”), a powerful and revealing selection. The recording of choice was the Archiv Produktion (1992) release with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists (John Eliot Gardiner, dir.).

Here’s the entire 2002 program with P.D. James.


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