Main: Nifty Digits — Recorder Music and more

Today we present a pro­gramme with two relat­ed focus­es. On the one hand, the music of the recorder; and on the oth­er, the work of the vast­ly tal­ent­ed mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist and com­pos­er Richard Har­vey, a lead­ing recorder play­er and com­pos­er for the instru­ment. In par­tic­u­lar, we fea­ture his recent­ly-released recorder work, Con­cer­to Incan­ta­to.

The recorder goes back to medi­ae­val times and was a favourite right through the Renais­sance until it fell out of favour, return­ing to the reper­toire with the revival of inter­est in Ear­ly Music in the 1960s, thanks to groups like David Munrow’s Ear­ly Music Con­sort and Musi­ca Reser­va­ta.

The recorder is what is known as a “fip­ple flute” — instead of blow­ing across a hole as in a trans­verse flute, you blow down the end, in which there is, essen­tial­ly, a whis­tle. Read more about the recorder in this Wikipedia arti­cle. Today we’ll hear recorder music from medi­ae­val times onward, with a bias towards the Renais­sance and Baroque eras.

Richard Har­vey has been a lead­ing expo­nent of the recorder, but this mul­ti-tal­ent­ed mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist has done a great deal more in his career to date than sim­ply that. Fol­low­ing learn­ing the clar­inet at school and attend­ing the Roy­al Col­lege of Music, he went on to become a mem­ber of Musi­ca Reser­va­ta, but prob­a­bly first came to promi­nence as front-man in the “medi­ae­val rock band” Gryphon in the 1960s-70s. We include most of their reper­toire today — after all both Richard and his col­league, fel­low RCM grad­u­ate Bri­an Gul­land, played recorders exten­sive­ly on almost every track with the band.

One aspect of Richard’s career we won’t be cov­er­ing today is his exten­sive work for pro­duc­tion music libraries such as KPM (includ­ing the album Nifty Dig­its, which is in fact a key­board col­lec­tion), cor­po­rate clients such as ICL, and ulti­mate­ly an increas­ing­ly pres­ti­gious series of TV and film scores — so no Ter­ra­hawks or Ani­mal Farm today — and also none of his col­lab­o­ra­tions with gui­tarist John Williams.

What we will be includ­ing, how­ev­er, are some of his clas­si­cal recorder per­for­mances, and some of his com­po­si­tions for the instru­ment, notably the Con­cer­to Incan­ta­to, writ­ten for Micha­la Petri and the City Cham­ber Orches­tra of Hong Kong, in a record­ing that was released very recent­ly and receives one of its first radio broad­casts today. Micha­la Petri — one of the world’s lead­ing recorder play­ers — appears also per­form­ing some mod­ern Chi­nese works for the instru­ment, which are real­ly unusu­al and fas­ci­nat­ing.

The Black Mass

Then join us at 11am and 7pm Pacif­ic Time — 19:00 and 03:00 in the UK — for the sec­ond sto­ry in our land­mark radio dra­ma series The Black Mass, cre­at­ed by Erik Bauers­feld and John Whit­ing in the 1960s and 70s at KPFA in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia. Tonight we bring you a tale by Bram Stok­er: The Squaw. Don’t miss it!

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:
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