Broadcast highlights

The pick of the week's classical music programmes for 9-15 November

Published: November 9, 2009 at 8:00 am

Radio highlights


A Cymbal Tale
Tuesday 10 November, 1.30pm

Writer, comedian and rock drummer Andrew McGibbon (aka Andrew Paresi) tells the tale of a 175-year-old cymbal and explores the history of the instrument. From the cymbal's roots in ancient Assyria and China to its arrival in Europe in the 1670s, McGibbon finds out how the instrument developed and takes a look at why it became so popular with orchestral composers, jazz musicians and rock drummers. Includes interviews with British Museum archeomusicologist Richard Dumbrill, Heather Corbett, chief percussionist with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and John Keeble from Spandau Ballet.

Performance on 3
Wednesday 11 November, 7pm

Petroc Trelawny presents a recital given at London's Wigmore Hall by Paul Lewis. The British pianist performs impromptus by Schubert, as well as one of Beethoven's masterpieces, 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120. Plus the programme takes a look at the work of the English Chamber Orchestra, and features a conversation with its new music director Paul Watkins.

Opera on 3
Saturday 14 November, 6pm

Ligeti's 'anti-anti-opera' Le grand macabre comes to Radio 3 in this broadcast from Le Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels. Conducted by Leo Hussain, this production by innovative Catalan theatre company La Fura dels Baus features an international cast. Ligeti's anarchic opera centres on a set of 'stock' characters, including a pair of young lovers, a cuckolded husband and domineering wife, a drunk, a pair of corrupt politicians and a corpulent prince. They live in a timeless dystopian 'Breughelland', visited by Death who promises the end of world but, though drink and incompetence, fails to deliver.

TV highlights

Sacred Music
Monday 9 November, 10.55pm-2.55am

In this four-part documentary series, screened here in its entirety, actor and former chorister Simon Russell Beale explores the blossoming of Western sacred music. Beale begins his journey at Notre Dame in Paris (The Gothic Revolution, 10.55pm), before heading to Italy to find out about the great Renaissance composer Palestrina (Palestrina and the Popes. 11.55pm). In Tallis, Byrd and the Tudors (12.55am), Beale explores how music fared in the religious turmoil of Tudor England, before taking a look at Bach and the Lutheran Legacy (1.55am). The series includes performances by The Sixteen, under Harry Christophers, who join Beale on his journey.

The story behind Allegri's Miserere
Friday 13 November, 8.30pm


Simon Russell Beale tells the story behind Allegri's Miserere, the choral masterpiece which Mozart, so the story goes, wrote down note for note from memory after hearing it just once. Plus The Sixteen, conducted by Harry Christophers, gives a performance of the complete work.

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