Media: Classic FM: what the experts say

This week has seen a milestone in British broadcasting: the launch of the first national commercial radio station. With its format of snatches from the classics interspersed with advertisements and free offers, it is challenging Radio 3 and other easy-listening stations. Two more channels are set to follow in Classic's wake in the next 12 months. Robert Hanks asks professionals in the music world what they make of the newcomer

Antony Hopkins, conductor and broadcaster

I WAS expecting about what I got: short bursts of music divided one from another with adverts that were completely out of the tone of the music preceding: the 'Pie Jesu' from the Faure Requiem, immediately followed by an ad for Tropicana orange juice - which, to add to the injury, also had a mishmash of music behind it. There was no thought for continuity: following the Hummel Trumpet Concerto with the Widmung transcription by Liszt (which is from a song by Schumann). There seemed to be no logical reason for that; and then the extraordinary frustration of having only single movements - of which I would mention the very interesting recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto in the arrangement for viola, which one hardly ever hears. There was a great shout of triumph when they actually played the whole Albinoni Oboe Concerto. It's just so insanely restless. The general assumption seemed to be that nobody could tolerate listening to anything for longer than five minutes.

Odaline De La Martinez, composer, conductor

THEY had a lot of good tunes, but everything's short-

lived, and everything's bits from larger things. There are commercials with classical music in the background, and I find that offensive. It's all very popular classical music; there's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you need meat, not just sugar. Radio 3, that gives you a full meal: a starter, a main course and a sweet, and wonderful coffee and liqueurs. Classic FM is dabbling, with superficial information. Radio 3 is an educational experience. And there's a lot of good women composers - Clara Schumann, the Piano Concerto's wonderful; why don't they put just one movement on? There's Fanny Mendelssohn - the Songs without Words. Why can't we hear that, why the same old pops we've heard for hundreds of years? I don't think I'll be listening much; or only if I have a headache.

Peter Donohoe pianist

IT'S wonderful to have more exposure of music to people who would be put off by Radio 3. But there are dangers. One is that they play movements instead of whole works - letting people think they know about classical music when they don't. It is not being faithful to that art to let people take the nice bits only. The most avant- garde moment was an advert for orange juice. The second thing was the constant jingles; and there was a catchphrase they kept using - 'The World's Most Beautiful Music' - please, could they eliminate that? If I was an Indian and I played the sitar, I'd be a bit brassed off about that. And I'd like to feel that the people who presented it knew what they were talking about, and were not representing the Reader's Digest. But these are dangers rather than realities - I don't think anyone can say whether they are that significant at this point.

Judith Weir, composer

I STARTED off with an open mind, because I have fond memories of commercial stations in the United States. I can think of quite a few that are small but they're presented by enthusiasts - I don't mean people with a vast academic knowledge, but with a desire to put across the music to a wide public, and that can be very enjoyable. But this really was a lot worse than I thought. With one exception - the guy who did a programme about Carlos Kleiber in the evening - nobody seemed to speak with any love for the music. The most bizarre feature was that they played single movements out of bigger pieces, and I found that most disorientating, to leap into the second movement of a Brandenburg Concerto after an aria from Don Giovanni. I felt what I heard was being flung at me in terribly small morsels. Musicians were willing to give this lot a chance, and I was disappointed.

James Jolly, editor of 'Gramophone'

I QUITE liked it. It was difficult to know what to expect, because we've had no experience of this sort of commercial classical station over here, but I found the tone quite like Radio 2 - it's a strange sort of classlessness that's relaxing, there's something very direct about it. I found the pace rather invigorating first thing in the morning; however, I wonder whether one might get bored of so many fast and loud bits of music. But I don't think there's anything wrong with playing lollipops - I suspect that's what quite a lot of people do anyway - pick out little bits. The reception I get is much better than Radio 3. It's very close-miked, which gives it that frisson of excitement that you get on commercial stations. It does make Radio 3's morning stuff seem rather creaky. If you could get Classic FM's presenters and Radio 3's music together, that would be ideal.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss