Sunday, July 10, 2005

Private Passions

I have written before praising Michael Berkeley's BBC Radio 3 programme Private Passions. The presenter (left) is the son of Sir Lennox Berkeley and a much respected composer himself, with a BBC Proms commission being premiered this season. (Post following on an overgrown path tomorrow listing all new works being premiered at the BBC Proms) . Private Passions is a weekly, hour long, programme in which Berkeley explores the musical interests of a public figure each week. The programme has been running for ten years, and is thankfully one of the few programmes left that the new 'demand-led' Radio 3 hasn't yet dumbed down.

The guest on this week's programme, which has just finished broadcasting here in the UK, was mountaineer Stephen Venables, the first Briton to climb Everest without oxygen. His musical choices ranged from a harpsichord piece by Rameau and Bach's B minor Mass, through music by Mozart, Schumann, Brahms and Elgar to Weill's Surabaya Johnny and one of Dudley Moore's brilliant piano improvisations. The music is very fine, but the jewel is the discussion between Michael Berkeley and Stephen Venables.

The quality of all radio broadcasting here in the UK is rapidly following TV down the slippery slope to sub-mediocrity. And I am afraid that too often includes Radio3. A programme like this week's Private Passions is a reminder of how great broadcasting can educate (do you know Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine? - I didn't before this broadcast), inform, entertain and move.

Private Passions is available on demand via the web for seven days until 17th July. If you have any interest in great radio broadcasting launch the programme via this link.

If you enjoyed this post follow an overgrown path to Discovered - the online Arnold Schoenberg jukebox

3 comments:

Fairhaven Friend said...

I heard the "Cantique de Jean Racine" years ago on WGBH Boston, courtesy of host Doug Briscoe who always seems to know what I personally like! I researched versions and while it meant getting yet another copy of the Requiem, I did obtain this wonderful piece.

Another similar experience listening to 'GBH was hearing the Allegri "Miserere" and the fascinating story that it would might never have seen a life beyond the Vatican walls had it not been for Mozart's steel-trap aural memory, so jealousy guarded was this musical treasure that the Papacy did not permit its publication.

Pliable said...

I have been trying to find a good recording of the Faure 'Cantique de Jean Racine' that doesn't include the Requiem as I want to avoid duplication in my collection.

I can't locate a 'Requiem free' alternative.

Do any readers have recommendations?

Stephen Venables said...

I just found my name here. Someone asked about a good recording of the Cantique de Jean Racine sans Requiem. Get the wonderful misecellany from the Girls of Bath Abbey, memorably described by Catherine Bott on CD Review as 'The matchless maidens of Bath'.
Stephen Venables