Music on radio

Radio 3's Mining the Archive had a charming tale to tell us last week, and at the same time reminded us of a composer who, although rarely heard in this country in recent years, nevertheless caused something of a stir in the 1970s, provoking angry debate and even a sense of betrayal in some purists' hearts.

The famous Beaux Arts Trio was the subject of the programme's archival digging, and we heard, among other things, a superb performance of a Haydn Trio dating from 1975 and a 1981 Proms performance of Beethoven's Triple Concerto that was outstanding for its vigour and stylistic elegance.

The engaging surprise was an excerpt from the Beaux Arts Trio's appearance on Desert Island Discs, in which two of the players chose their instruments for their luxury item, only to find that cellist Bernard Greenhouse was going to set up a trading post with his item - a collection of violin and piano strings. Hilarity engulfed Roy Plomley's studio.

It was the programme's final item that aroused memories of a creative volte-face which most of today's musicians would find it very hard to get worked up about.

The American George Rochberg can be seen to have relived or even initiated many of the major upheavals of 20th-century music, reaching a post-Schoenbergian dialectic of the utmost intricacy in the 1950s, only to undergo a crisis of conscience concerning his ego-bound hermeticism and complexity.

He moved towards a new tonality and formal simplicity, and was one of the first composers to attempt to break down the barriers between what was conceived of then as avant-gardism and conservatism.

Many thought he was selling his soul by approaching the language of Mahler, although he appears to us now as an early post-modernist pioneer rather than as a back-slider.

The work played by the Beaux Arts Trio dated from 1985 and showed Rochberg's oddly personal way with post-tonal language and structure: Shostakovich did not seem too far distant, as the score wended its elegant way through areas of uneasy serenity, and the piece was performed with the commitment and concentration that marked everything this supreme ensemble undertook.

Also during the week, Radio 3 was doing its determined best to keep abreast of recent new work with a relay from last year's Huddersfield Festival of arresting pieces by Tavener and Tan Dun, a recording of Mark-Anthony Turnage's powerful operatic double bill first heard a few weeks previously at this year's Aldeburgh Festival, and a live relay from the Cheltenham Festival of a new BBC commission - Vic Hoyland's A-Vixen-A. Spacious music, this, superbly conceived for orchestra, in which the composer draws fresh inspiration from his 1960s and 1970s forebears while extending a post- Mahlerian lyricism all his own.

In taking Beethoven's various approaches to composition as its theme, Composer of the Week did not always avoid the impression of trying to justify its programming of rather odd collections of pieces by placing them under intellectually OK umbrellas. Still, there were interesting perceptions in Stephanie Hughes's presentations, and Tuesday's look at experimentation did manage to focus, if in a rather subdued light, Beethoven's credo "Art demands of us that we do not stand still."

Anthony Payne

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world