Posts Tagged ‘BBC Radio 3’

Handel week on BBC Radio 3

April 10, 2009
Approaching the mid-point of its broadcasts of all 42 Handel operas on Thursday afternoons, BBC Radio 3 continues its spectacular celebration of Handel’s great art with a fine week of special programming, starting tomorrow.

You’ll be able to catch many of the programmes online – via BBC iPlayer.

Highlights include:

* Easter Sunday, Michael Berkeley recalls nine guests who have chosen Handel pieces in Private Passions;

* Radio 3 Requests features listeners’ requests with a Handel focus;

* Mon-Fri: Composer of the Week is dedicated to Handel’s oratorios, including Esther, Messiah and Judas Maccabeus.

* Messiah from Westminster Abbey on the exact 250th anniversary of his death, Tuesday April 14th.

* the European Broadcasting Union Handel Day on April 19th presents twelve hours of musical celebrations from across the continent.

Details:; Handel pages in Composers of the Year website:

As a long-time admirer of Radio 3, but scornful critic/reluctant funder (via taxation) of the bloated BBC, I’d willingly pay a subscription to hear this kind of quality programming. Pity that I also have to pay for all the other crap that seeps from the broadcaster.

Gerry Smith

Mozart, Handel, Purcell: a classical feast on Radio 3

March 2, 2009
There’s classical riches aplenty to feast on in the next few weeks:

* Mozart: the great man’s latter days are celebrated in Radio 3’s Composer Of The Week on BBC Radio 3 this week – 1200 and 2200.

* Handel: all the operas on Radio 3, every Thursday afternoon from 2 – they’re revelatory.

* Purcell: a feast of the 17thC composer as Radio 3 devotes the weekend of 21/22 March to the great man.

Great musicians… great radio station…

Many BBC Radio 3 programmes are broadcast live online. Some are also accessible online via iPlayer for a short period after transmission:

Gerry Smith

Brian Eno at 60

September 11, 2008
Few recent radio broadcasts have promised as much as tonight’s Late Junction at 2315 BST on BBC Radio 3: “Robert Sandall celebrates Brian Eno at 60, with music from four decades of Eno’s career.”

As most grown-ups regard Eno as a seminal musician, this could well be a landmark broadcast. Presenter Robert Sandall is an expert commentator on the artier end of rock and other contemporary musics. Watch this space.

And listen online for seven days at:

Gerry Smith

Proms 2008: the highlights

July 23, 2008
The Proms, the annual summer festival of (mainly) classical music held (mainly) at London’s Albert Hall, started its 2008 season last Friday with the inauspicious withdrawal through illness of Finnish soprano Karita Mattila.

The Proms used to seem like a two month-long gathering of all the geeks, swots and hapless toff and jerks in England (and Colonies). The festival came across as a celebration of the smug, self-satisfied bourgeoisie.

Having overcome such dispiriting prejudice, I now reserve my criticisms for the Proms programme itself. It always has gems, sometimes a multiplicity. But it’s largely a succession of one tedious 19thC symphony after another, albeit played by a rich variety of leading orchestras. I tend to home in on the vocal music.

Proms 2008 highlights I’m waiting for include:

Thurs 31 July – Monteverdi’s Poppaea (Danielle de Niese)

Mon 11 August – Puccini’s Il Tabarro (Barbara Frittoli)

Sun 17 August – Beethoven Mass in C

Fri 22 August – Mahler 5 etc (Angela Kirschlager)

Sun 24 August – Bach’s St John Passion

Sun 31 August – Verdi’s Requiem

Mon 8 Sept – Mahler 6 (Chicago SO)

That’s less than 10% of the total festival, but a mouth-watering prospect nevertheless.

To its credit, the BBC transmits all 76 concerts live on the indispensable Radio 3, with a few also on BBC Four TV. But, as with so many big events, the BBC’s presence transforms the Proms. In applying its Middle England gloss to the events it covers, the BBC changes them. It’s what makes its Wimbledon output inferior to French TV’s coverage of the Paris Open. And makes Glastonbury virtually unwatchable.

Online access: many BBC radio programmes are available online, streamed. Please see the BBC channels’ web sites for details. Archived radio and TV is accessible online via:

Gerry Smith

Thomas Quasthoff and Esbjorn Svensson celebrated on Radio 3

June 20, 2008
Regular readers will know of my fondness for BBC Radio 3: it’s as near as English radio gets to a Music For Grown-Ups station.

This week’s schedules included two pieces of programming which were outstanding even by Radio 3’s toweringly high standards:

* German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff is ever more prominent, and I’d been wondering what all the fuss is about. After hearing the four-programme profile in the Artist Focus series, I now know. What a talent!

* the tragic death of pianist Esbjorn Svensson, founder of EST, the magnificent trio named after him, in a diving accident near his Stockholm home last weekend, has saddened the world of jazz. EST took their tumultuous brand of populist jazz to a mainstream European audience, including many younger listeners; they’ve been one of the brightest stars in the improv universe for some years.

Radio 3 paid tribute to Svensson in Jazz on 3 at 2330 on Friday 20 June, by replaying extracts from no fewer than four EST gigs recorded for the BBC over the last dozen or so years.

RIP: Esbjorn Svensson, a great musician.

Many BBC radio programmes are available online, streamed and/or archived. You can access them via Listen Again:

Gerry Smith

FREE! Music for grown-ups on air in the next seven days

May 7, 2008

Over the next seven days, I hope to catch/record some wonderful music for grown-ups on TV/radio:


Wed 7 May

1200/2045 Schubert’s later work, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3

(3/5, continues Thurs-Fri)


Fri 9 May

2100 Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan (Series 2) – BBC 6 Music

2200 Kings Of Cool – The Classic Crooners – BBC Four

2230 Jack De Johnette, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3

2330 Bill Frisell, Jazz on 3 – BBC Radio 3


Sun 11 May

1300 Bach In Leipzig, Early Music Show – BBC Radio 3



Gerry Smith

FREE! Music for grown-ups on air in the next seven days

March 25, 2008

Over the next seven days, I hope to catch/record these tempting TV/radio broadcasts: 

Wed/Th – nothing 

Fri 28 March

2000 Sacred Music (2/4) – BBC Four

2230 Dizzy Gillespie, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3 

Sat 29 March

2000 Buddy Holly, Icons Revisited (1/10), BBC Radio 2 

Mon 31 March

2045 Manuel de Falla, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3 (1/5, continues Tues-Fri)

2230 Karita Mattila (Finnish soprano), Artist Focus – BBC Radio 3

(1/4, continues Tues-Thurs)

2300 Maths And Music – BBC Radio 3, (1/4, continues Tues-Thurs)

FREE! Music for grown-ups on air in the next seven days

March 19, 2008

Over the next seven days, I hope to catch/record these tempting TV/radio broadcasts: 

Wed 19 March:  2045 Schoenberg, Composer Of The Week (3/5) – BBC Radio 3

(Plus programme 4 on Thurs, 5 on Fri) 

Good Friday 21 March: 1830 Bach’s St John Passion – BBC Radio 3

2000 Sacred Music (1/4) – BBC Four (repeated Sat 1900)

2230 Anita O’Day, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3 

Sun 23 March:2030 Sacred Music – live concert – BBC Four 

Monday 24 March:2230 Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour (Instruments) – BBC Radio 2   

Gerry Smith