Wednesday, 18 January 2012

High culture on radio

"Pliable", the author of "On an Overgrown Path" quotes a Canadian correspondent on a perceived slide into populism on the Dominion's equivalent of Radio 3. There is also a comment by a reviewer supporting both men's criticism of Radio 3's music policy.

Classic FM clearly fulfils a need, and is commercially successful. For a publicly-funded broadcaster to compete for the same audience is pointless and worse - it could jeopardise Classic FM's viability while losing Radio 3's unique qualities at the same time. If BBC had been really concerned about maintaining their audience for the popular classics, it should not have shifted Radio 2 towards the charts when it did.

I do like some of the presenters, those who are executants like Sarah Walker (why are flautists so sexy?) and Verity Sharp and therefore know about music from the inside, but there are now too many "personalities". Also, too many "bleeding chunks" are played, especially on the Saturday afternoon programme. When Brahms or Sibelius wrote a symphony they conceived it as an organic whole, not for some DJ to  pull out "the good bits".

One development (or perhaps a return to the original remit of the Third Programme) which is welcome is the broadcasting of challenging - either experimental or dealing with controversial subjects - drama on Sunday evening. These are usually plays which it would be difficult to air on Radio 4. One should also applaud the platform given to avant-garde jazz, which fits nowhere else. I may not like everything that Radio 3 may play, but I will defend their right to play it.

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