Sunday, November 23, 2008
Why I hate cool and ironic
The infuriating thing is that the BBC can be both so good and so bad within a very short space of time. On Saturday's CD Review on Radio 3 Jonathan Swain reminded us just how good the BBC can be. His review of the available recordings of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Job - A Masque For Dancing was a textbook example of informed and intelligent radio. His advocacy of the work was so powerful that I listened again to Tod Handley's 1984 LP of this overlooked masterpiece as soon as the programme finished.
The bad thing is that Jonathan Swain, and several other excellent presenters, have been sidelined to specialist review and overnight programmes as Radio 3 continues to trade excellence for access. Clearly BBC director general Mark Thompson never listened to Russell Brand on Radio 2. I also suspect that Radio 3 controller Roger Wright doesn't spend enough time listening to his own station's output.
Jonathan Swain's passionate case for Job was a million miles from the cool and ironic style loved by the New York in-crowd. If I need reminding why I hate cool and ironic I will return to Sequenza21's recent interview with composer Rodney Lister and his comments about Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony.
The antithesis of cool and ironic was Dutch blogger Rolf Otterhouses' impassioned 'I am so bloody angry!' on YouTube. Rolf was one of many passionate people who spoke out about the threatened closure of Dutch classical webcaster Concertzender. And their passion has produced results. Last week I reported how the Dutch culture minister had intervened in Concertzendergate. This has been followed by even better news. First the Rotterdam programme council ruled that Concertzender must be included in the city's cable programming. Then the Dutch culture minister announced he would accept a submission from Concertzender presenting their case for staying online.
The moral of this story is that being cool and ironic gives the in-crowd a nice warm feeling; while getting bloody angry actually makes a difference.
Vernon Handley's Job is available as an EMI CD. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk