Classical concerts broadcast by the BBC will be enhanced by sports-style commentaries from pundits including John Motson, the corporation has announced. Masterpieces by the likes of Mahler and Beethoven will be overlaid with continuous opinion and analysis from a team of ‘enthusiastic and experienced’ pundits.
The decision is aimed at ‘de-mystifying’ the listening experience and will launch at this summer’s Proms season but incorporate year-round Performance on 3 broadcasts, too. Listeners on BBC Radio 3 will hear the usual introduction broadcast live before studio presenters hand over to a team of ‘stageside’ analysts as the music begins. They promise ‘unbiased and candid commentary on the unfolding performance’.
It’s believed Motson was approached to join the commentary team on the strength of his predilection for statistics. ‘There’ve been player transfers across the UK this spring that will make the new season fascinating’, said the veteran commentator. ‘Who’d have thought that after six years with the Northern Sinfonia, 1st violinist Bradley Cresswick would have agreed a transfer to the Liverpool Philharmonic?’
It’s understood pundits will be encouraged to explore the mindsets of players as they approach solos or challenging passages in the music. They will also be encouraged to express honest critical reaction after such moments – suggesting whether players might be ‘happy with that’ and whether they’re ‘justifying their selection’.
New ‘Bats-ear’ technology will ascertain whether a particular orchestra or ensemble is giving a performance their all – the achievable target being 110%.
In a statement the corporation claimed ‘a new spirit of competition and intrigue’ will invade its concert broadcasts. This is sure to place particular emphasis on conductors whose jobs appear to be at risk, notably Charles Dutoit, whose commitment to the Royal Philharmonic appeared to waver at the close of last season, and Sir Simon Rattle, whose Berlin Philharmonic players are prone to dressing-room rebellion.
The corporation dismissed as ‘nonsense’ a claim from listener groups that rolling commentary would interfere with their appreciation of the music they love.