The week on Radio 3

Well, it seems that worried Radio 3 listeners can relax. For, despite such alarmist polemics as the article (by one Bayan Northcott) which the Independent carried on these pages last week concerning the network's forthcoming programme changes, we now have the assurance of Matthew Bannister, Director of BBC Radio, in Monday's Letters to the Editor, that these are all based upon "the views of our listeners, our programme makers and a sophisticated understanding of the changes in society which affect how people listen to radio".

Doubtless this assertion would be wholly endorsed by his Commissioning Editor, Music (Policy), Hilary Boulding, and his Head of Presentation, Cathy Wearing, who seem to exert as much influence upon the daily content and style of Radio 3 as its Controller, Nicholas Kenyon - preoccupied as he evidently is by such grand projects as Sounding the Century. So it can be confidently expected that they will now extend the most "sophisticated understanding", for instance, to Mr Walter Grey of London N3, who complained (with reason!) in Tuesday's Letters to the Editor of the maddening plethora of Radio 3 trails that increasingly bung up the pauses between scheduled programmes. Or to Mr Frank Fahy of Southampton who, describing himself on Monday as a typical lay listener with little technical knowledge of music, requested (surprisingly?) not the kind of "entertaining mix" of classical music with "personable" links threatened by the forthcoming changes, but more detailed explanation of works, in the tradition of Anthony Hopkins's Talking about Music programmes, from which he could learn.

Aside from Composer of the Week and the odd snippet of concert presentation, it has not been so easy over the last few days to find Radio 3 programmes that measure up to Mr Fahy's requirements. Closest, perhaps, was David Fanning's introduction to the symphonic thought of the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli during the interval of last Sunday night's Prom. No single work was anatomised in detail, but by sketching in the personal background, identifying some of the sources of Kancheli's style and suggesting how he put his first three symphonies together from the starkest cross-cutting of aggression and minimalism, Fanning must have sharpened the ears of many listeners to the ensuing UK premiere of Kancheli's Third.

A couple of hours earlier, The African Mahler - surprisingly a first- ever radio feature by that ubiquitous film director and broadcaster, Tony Palmer - attempted no such thing. To be fair, this survey of the short, fraught life of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), Britain's first noted black composer, was primarily biographical in purpose. By rapidly shuffling a collage of readings, dramatised incidents and archival recordings, Palmer contrived to cover an amazing amount of ground in his 45 minutes, even if some of his methods were corny - such as announcing Coleridge-Taylor's death as if on the BBC News, or characterising the 40-year-old Elgar as an old crusty, when the sole surviving recording of his voice suggests it was light and nervous. In the end, Coleridge-Taylor's struggles and sufferings for black rights were more faithfully represented than his once famous magnum opus Hiawatha, snippets of which were continually subjected to voice-over readings from Longfellow by Sir John Gielgud, so that it was impossible to gauge its musical scope, let alone whether or not it deserves its latterday neglect.

No such uncertainty worried the makers of Saturday's Proms Feature, Magic Fire, a centenary paean to that late-Romantic wunderkind and Hollywood laureate, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, which took the by now all too familiar line that recognition of his genius was held back until recently by the hegemony of Modernism. It is time this was challenged, not only because mid-century Modernism proved no comparable inhibition to the ready acceptance of Richard Strauss's late output or to the revaluation of Mahler, but because it obscures the real issue, which is whether, beneath the personal sheen of his sound and the supreme skill of his technique, Korngold had much of musical substance to say. Once again, a detailed exploration of a particular piece - say, the Violin Concerto before its performance in Tuesday night's Prom (see review overleaf) - would surely have been more helpful, and to many besides Mr Fahy.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?