22 June 2007

"Classic Britannia"... another classic

I end up watching TV more Friday evenings than I'd like to admit, simply because the pubs in London are so damn busy on Friday nights that it's the last time you'd want to go out for a beer, and people we know locally in Essex never seem to be around on Fridays. Usually it's absolute cack, but BBC4 will often throw something exciting into the mix, and so it was with Classic Britannia. This was the first in a series of three hour-long programmes that look at classical music in Britain between 1945 and the present day. This one covered the period up to the early 60s and featured a lot of Benjamin Britten (whose work I know to some extent), William Walton (who I was clueless about), the tail end of Ralph Vaughn Williams's career (a Benny Voller favourite), and early works by Harrison Birtwhistle and Peter Maxwell Davies (reassuringly avant garde.) The surviving composers were all interviewed specially for the programme and this was combined with a lot of good archive footage including Britten's War Requiem (which I was lucky enough to pick up as a vinyl box set from a charity shop in Clacton last year), at its premiere in Coventry Cathedral in 1964. Anyway the programme was brilliant and follows hot on the heels of Jazz Britannia, Soul Britannia and Folk Britannia. All we need now is Barber Shop Britannia and we're done.

Seriously though, BBC4 is an oasis of quality programming in a sea of cack. Many people don't like the licence fee but I think just this channel on its own makes it worthwhile. Perhaps I'm an awful elitist? Who gives a f***. Benny V, you need to watch this program as soon as you can (I'm sure it'll be repeated. Nice Pink Floyd post by the way son. So what did happen to the Post War Dream?

See y'all down The Proms next month.


voller said...

Thanks for the recommendation, but I have a slight problem with BBC4 inasmuch as, whilst most human beings are increasing the number of channels they can receive on an almost daily basis, I have gone against the flow and taken several steps backwards through technological evolution to the point where I can receive only terrestrial channels through an analogue aerial. It's enough to keep me up with Dr Who and I'm pretty much not bothered about anything else.

BTW Britten's War Requiem - I had a chance to sing in a performance of that work, but had to drop out of it for 2 main reasons:
(1) the final term of my teacher training year was just too hectic, and
(2) I found the piece just too damn hard!
Liked it though, some really great moments in it.

giroscoper said...

Mate... you need a digibox. Seriously, Freeview is the way forward!