Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Watty thinks he ought to write something:

It has to be said that this here work project is consumng my entire life at the moment - I am, however, defiantly having a breather right now, and no-one's going to stop me. Well, not too many people, anyway.

So, what shall I write about? My seeming inability to get to sleep at night? Hardly interesting. The weather? Well, it sort-of snowed recently, but now we're back to the usual all-year-round weather: grey, damp and colder than it looks. So, that wasn't interesting, either. The missing book reviews *points left*? Well, I'd like to, but see earlier comments about time. I haven't even posted any to the MCiOS Books game, where I'm generally quite prolific. The sheer frustration of listening to Radio 3 on the way home in the evenings? Well, I'll give that a quick blast:

Most people, I imagine - even non-UK readers - will have some kind of idea what to expect from Radio 3. Classical music, with the odd bit of jazz around the edges. And thats actually still not a bad description. In recent years there have been innovations designed to interest a slightly wider audience, and in the last year or so there has been a noticeable shift in programming policy. I have few problems with programme innovations as a concept - the idea of a beakfast time and a 'drive time' magazine-type show is, in principle, a good one. Few people these days would have time to listen to an entire symphony while taking the children to school, for example - there's plenty of time for that sort of thing at other times of day. In truth, I don't really listen to the breakfast time programme - my enthusiasm for other radio shows has been heard here before - but I do listen to 'In Tune' on the way home. It's often interesting and informative, equally often irritating - Sean Rafferty's interview style is - I'll be kind - ingratiating, and whoever does his research has an interesting relationship with the facts - pretty much every day, one or other of his guests has to correct him on something, which might of course be considered part of the charm. But it's the musical policy which sometimes causes me to switch off. I don't mind if every so often, something is played which I don't like - that's part of the deal. I do get annoyed by severely grating juxtapositions - baroque alongside 20th century can be bad enough (although, to be fair, sometimes it works), but folowing Handel with an excerpt from Duke Ellington and then plunging into Villa-Lobos witout a pause seems deliberately perverse - the ear needs time to adjust, and never seems to get it. And then last night, there was some Mahler.

Now my fondness for Mahler needs no introduction, but delighted as I was to hear some, I can't stress how fustrating it is to hear the fifth movement (of six) from the third symphony broadcast in isolation purely because it is short . And then, in an entirely different mood, we had the slow movement from the sixth. Fabulous, moving and powerful, it pulled me in and in spite of being out of context, I really began to enjoy the performance. And then it stopped. And we went on to some modern Australian piano and sax which I would probably have enjoyed had it not been for the way I was beating my head against the window in frustration. And I'm reasonably easy-going when it comes to music - some of the people on the Radio 3 messageboard seem ready to take up arms. And they do have a serious point - the 'core classical' part of Radio 3's remit is being swamped, it sometimes feels, by 'World Music' and numerous things which would appear already to have natural homes elsewhere on the BBC. One wonders what Radio 3 is actually for...

Er, oops. Didn't mean to rant. And I was going to talk about Samuel Pepys as well... Next time.

No comments: