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Radio: Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.2 \ Symphony No. 5 \ BBC NOW \ John Lill

February 20, 2010

This post seems as good a point in time as any to let you in on a little secret.

Actually. There are a handful of secrets to let you in on. Naturally it depends on whether you know this already as to whether or not the following facts qualify as secrets. Here’s hoping. They strike me as secrets. I can’t imagine anyone else has considered the following important enough to blog about.

Listed in no particular order …

Secret Number One: Friday night on BBC Radio 3 is something to mark off in your diary. If you can’t listen to the network from 7pm as live (I couldn’t – I was round at a friends house devouring a tasty turkey goulash and watching the adorable Disney animation miracle that is ‘Up‘), be sure to make a point of listening again via BBC iPlayer.

Why? Because Friday night appears to be now given over to live performances. Some time ago – around about the time everyone’s favourite Radio Uncle Brian Kay and his Light Programme got ditched from the schedules – there was a bit of a rumpus about how the daily evening concert was being chopped and changed around, replaced with pre-recorded concerts from up and down the concert. If I recall correctly, a considerable number of live broadcasts were sacrificed as a result. Lots of people got hot under the collar. The fact I can’t actually remember the necessary details to back up this part of the blog post indicates that perhaps there was quite a lot of hot air around a subject, which hasn’t stood the test of time.

Nevertheless, what I’ve noticed since the beginning of this year is how a regular slot (Friday nights) appears to have been given over to a live broadcast from somewhere or other in the country. I like that. It’s like the Proms only once a week and all year around. Not only that, it’s like the Proms only better because each live relay comes from a venue with more than half decent acoustics.

I’m a picky listener. Get used to it.

Secret Number Two: The BBC National Orchestra of Wales have grabbed the ‘The Best Live Performance Given by a BBC Orchestra 2010” and – if they’ve got any sense – they won’t let go of it either. Friday night’s concert was a bit of a cracker, you see.

Secret Number Three: Their Friday night gig last week was something you really ought to listen to, if you haven’t already. Quite apart from the concert featuring a breathtaking performance of Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony in the second half, the performance of the Russian composer’s second piano concerto in the first half left the audience in both St David’s Hall in Cardiff and at least one kitchen in South East London eager to clap their hands together until they were red raw. Even if you know nothing about classical music, pay attention to the audience reaction at the end. They obviously recognised a performance worthy of raucous applause. (Nothing gets past me.)

Secret Number Four: The entire broadcast of Friday night’s Performance on 3 is long enough to prepare the following homemade Saturday night feast: spicy lamb koftas accompanied by an aubergine-yoghurty-thing, tomato salsa, chicken in lime mayonnaise, guacamole and crispy tortillas. There was even time to guzzle a couple of glasses of cheap merlot and wipe down all surfaces too. Nice.

Secret Number Five: You don’t need to rely on Rachel Allen‘s recipe books to complete a passable Saturday night feast. Nor do you need to resort to trawling the BBC’s Food database to find the text version of the recipes either. I did, failed and later resorted to watching it again on iPlayer. All Ms Allan seemed prepared to offer was an account of how to make the chicken thing. And really and truly. If after having watched it you don’t know how to make that without resorting to a recipe then you’ve no hope in the kitchen, in my humble opinion.

:: Listen to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with soloist John Lill play Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto followed by a Twenty Minute Interval Feature thing about books by someone quite earnest, after which you can hear a cracking performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.5.

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