Life after Henry Revise and survive

Radio 3 round-up

The zenith is past. Henry Purcell has been re-laid - not to say relayed - to tercentennial rest in Westminster Abbey. And Radio 3's year- long celebration of the indigenous muse, Fairest Isle itself, has but a little month to run. No doubt the BBC has received the predictable complaints from composers, performers and musical pressure groups who think they ought to have been included. No doubt the odd buff is still hankering after a really comprehensive investigation into the decline and fall of the British comedy overture. But the ingenious and genuinely exploratory ways in which so many of the programme-makers have seized upon the Fairest Isle pretext must have reassured many listeners who fear the future of serious music broadcasting in this country is set on an inexorable slide towards rushed schedules and sound-bite presentation.

Among recent series, for instance, Adrian Jack's Sunday evening explorations of five great English cathedrals not only indulged the ear in some of the more purple passages of Anglican Church music, but reminded one of the pleasures of sheer leisureliness as a broadcasting value. By the end of each hour-and-a-half, one felt positively steeped in the history, sights and sounds of the cathedral concerned.

As for the year's more arcane revivals, even that fabled genre of the far-off 1950s, the so-called Cheltenham Symphony, has been briefly resuscitated into a late-night series - though one might wonder whether midnight was the likeliest time to win new friends for Humphrey Searle and Peter Racine Fricker. Among features still to come are a nostalgic look at British film music on 10 December; and, on 20 December, an entire evening drawing together the achievements of Gustav Holst - whose opera, The Perfect Fool, receives a rare broadcast on Christmas Day itself.

Come 1 January, however, Radio 3 is going to have to adjust to life without Fairest Isle or any other obvious big theme to help fill its ever-gaping maw. True, 1996 includes the Bruckner centenary, but one imagines any comprehensive celebration of the Germanic 19th century (Fairest Reich?) is likely to be postponed to the Brahms-Schubert junketings of 1997.

There are also a number of structural changes in programming that have been quietly insinuated in recent months to take account of. The moving forward of Composer of the Week is evidently part of a larger pattern. Weekdays and weekends alike, most of the more focused series and features - the archival and discussion programmes, the slots for early music, ethnic recordings and jazz - now seem to be crammed into the afternoons. Not necessarily objectionable in itself: indeed many listeners might welcome a completion of the process with the removal of In Tune to the middle of the night - which is about all its garrulous inconsequence is fit for - leaving a straight run through to the concert and opera relays that inevitably dominate the evening schedules.

But the quid pro quo is what has happened to the mornings. For the arrival of Morning Collection with Paul Gambaccini means that the first six hours of each weekday (not to mention the first five on Sundays) now comprise little more than loose miscellanies of recorded music, linked by little information, less discussion and nothing at all in the way of features.

True, Musical Encounters runs an "Artist of the Week" through its schedules; granted, Penny Gore has been blasting On Air listeners from sleep all this week with instalments of Smetana's Ma Vlast. And the sequences of Haydn sonatas, Holst orchestral pieces and Dvorak symphonies that Gambaccini has been running through Morning Collection have proved one of its more encouraging features, whatever the fuss over his mode of presentation. But the real discussion ought to be whether Radio 3 listeners feel entirely happy to find the first third of each day's broadcasting (with the partial exception of Saturdays) virtually declared a thought-free zone.

BAYAN NORTHCOTT

Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice