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Two Radio 3 Programmes September 2003
Hear and Now (Ivan Hewett - Jose Evangelista and Lou Harrison)
Discovering Music
(Charles Hazlewood - Mozart K 466)

I belong to the generation which owed its chief musical education to the BBC's Third Programme and Radio 3. Normally, as editor of Musical Pointers (and formerly of Seen & Heard) covering live music in London and elsewhere leaves limited time for radio and TV.

A period of relative immobility with a broken leg has allowed more time for the radio.  I have previously suggested that Music Web might have a more balanced perspective if they could recruit contributors, who live far from easy access to concerts and perforce rely for musical nourishment chiefly upon radio and recordings, to come forward and offer regular evaluation of Radio 3 fare (as did Music and Musicians in its time). .

Despite accusations of 'dumbing down' in all the media, there remain excellent broadcast series which fulfil the BBC's original Reithian aims to educate and enlighten as well as to entertain.

In the past week two quasi-educational programmes have particularly delighted me with a combination of erudtion and unaffected presentational excellence, both including memorable performances, available to hear again on the BBC3 website. They raise inevitably questions as to whether time may be better spent listening to the riches available on line, rather than reading there lengthy reviews of concert performances which have quickly receded into the past (though it is possible to do both simultaneously, albeit with divided attention!).

Last week's Hear and Now provided opportunities to listen to Ivan Hewett's discussion with the Canadian 'monodist' Jose Evangelista, whose Merapi caught my ear particularly in its UK premiere at the recent Spitalfields Festival, and to hear again, from the same concert, discussion and performances of music by the late Lou Harrison, all of it sounding even better as broadcast. An excellent weekly programme, Hewett's focused questions encouraging musicians and musicologists to speak for themsleves.

I put on the Saturday afternoon transmission of Discovering Music, the second of four programmes focusing on Mozart and the classical style, with no strong urge to have a lesson on one of Mozart's most popular piano concertos. It was completely rivetting.

Innovative conductor Charles Hazlewood, (q.v. my reviews of Broomhill Opera) with his period instrument orchestra Harmonieband and forte-pianist Ronald Brautigam analysed and dissected the D minor Concerto, K 466, with a disingenuous enthusiasm before giving a complete performance which I would rate as equal to the finest on record. Without pushing the point, just leaving it to receptive ears, they found an unshowy, natural style that would have had no one wishing it had been done with a Steinway and a modern orchestra.

No need for me to write more; listen to this programme on line any time you wish during the current week ahead, with two more of Haslewood's workshop programmes to follow on 4 and 11 October, each of them remaining available when wanted for a week afterwards.

Peter Grahame Woolf

[First published on Seen&Heard]