The Early Music Show


It’s one of the best programmes on BBC Radio 3, and one of those I most consistently listen to. Still, it’s not without its faults, some of them being:

First, the voice and manner of Catherine Bott (a frequent presenter), which remind me of Ann Widdecombe, and her automatic sneer.

Second, the occasional tendency to come off the rails, the two-part programme on composers of the French Revolution being a classic example.

Third, its occasional misuse for promotional purposes, such as the programme on the (almost) non-existent music of the Nuremberg Mastersingers, prompted solely by the imminent broadcast of Wagner’s opera.

What I find irritating, particularly with Lucie Skeaping, is the repetition of the usual clichés about early music, and (often) the unwillingess to take the music seriously on its own terms. I find Andrew Manze’s and, to a lesser degree, Catherine Bott’s contributions better, but I cannot say that I have found every programme satisfying.

I think that this is a general trend with Radio 3 anyway; this is just the area I get hot under the collar about. There’s a lot of talking around the music – where is there real, serious discussion about music? Perhaps the public don’t want it, or perhaps we should not underestimate the audience, or the music.


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