BBC Radio 3's Bach Christmas should have been like a long and arduous flight which finally reached a wonderful destination.
Unfortunately I had a problem as soon as the flight started. All around me on the plane I found BBC presenters who insisted on talking all the time. Gratuitous explanations of the music were not enough, they also read out vacuous listener emails, kept plugging the online 'message board', repeatedly played the same Bach sound-bytes from talking heads, and kept running the most excruciating 'commercial' for (and I joke not) 'the late great B minor Mass'.
After three days of this I became desperate and sent an email to the BBC saying please stop reading out listeners emails, just let the music speak for itself. Within sixty seconds of clicking on send the presenter (Sean Rafferty) read out my email.
Sadly by the time my flight reached its destination I was grumpy, out of sorts, and vowing never to make the journey again unless I had different company. (Come back Patricia Hughes, Peter Barker, and renounce your vows Cormac Rigby).
There were some revelatory things in the Bach Christmas, particularly the chorale realisations. But the planners should have realised that the frequency at which sacred cantatas would need to be broadcast was going to present a major problem of listener fatigue. It could just have been solved by studious, sparing and stylish presentation. Sadly it was sunk by the BBC's desperate attempt to go 'inclusive' and 'interactive'.
It was Claude Debussy who said that music is the silence between the notes. On Radio 3 last week the agony was the presenters between the music.
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