Be careful what you wish for...
Apparently I have a Complication, following flu the other week that never quite left. I could describe at length the sensation that your left lung has been turned into a brick, but believe me, you don't want to know. I missed the Middle Temple Hall performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream last night and am left only with a spooky sensation that my last post may have contained wistful words about doing nothing but listening to the radio all day. As the old maxim goes: be careful what you wish for, because you might get it. I can't see myself going further than the sofa for a few days. Just in time for Mendelssohn Weekend.
So let's see what's on.... Here is a quickish personal run-down of the jamboree highlights, which begin on Friday at 5pm, kicking off with a special In Tune, live from Birmingham Town Hall, where Elijah was premiered. The programme includes a performance by Thomas Trotter on the organ that Mendelssohn played in 1837 and Radio 3 New Generation Artist Tai Murray performs Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto
with the BBC Philharmonic.
Six young composers have been commissioned to write brand-new Songs Without Words for the 21st Century. Contemporary pianist par excellence, Andrew Zolinsky, will be playing them all at 9.45pm on Saturday. If vocal music is more your thang, dozens of choirs across the country from the Isle of Arran to Truro join Radio 3 to perform 'O for the Wings of a Dove'. Aled Jones interviews some of the many singers taking part in The Choir and Radio 3's Choir of the Year - Scunthorpe Community Choir - will perform the complete Hear My Prayer.
In Music Matters, Tom Service visits Scotland and follows in Mendelssohn's footsteps exploring the places he visited in the summer of 1829. Tom is a passionate Felixophile, and I can heartily recommend a few of his recent articles. He has nailed the truth about how Wagner wrecked Mendelssohn's afterlife in this excellent piece for The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/may/05/felix-mendelssohn-richard-wagner-classical-music. And he took some video of Fingal's Cave when he headed for Scotland to research his programme - viewable on his blog at The Guardian, here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/tomserviceblog/2009/apr/23/mendelssohn-fingals-cave
(There's a lot of that around - in BBC 2's The Birth of British Music, the final programme of which will be devoted to Mendelssohn, presenter Charles Hazlewood goes there too. It'll be screened towards the end of May...Can't you just imagine the local reaction to all these Mendelssohn tourists suddenly arriving, frothing at the mouth, desperate to get to the cave this year? I reckon the price of haggis will have doubled. Unless, of course, the boat journey renders everyone as seasick as Felix himself. But I digress...)
The composer's travels throughout Europe are reflected in Words and Music; actor Edward Bennett reads his letters from his 'Great Trip' of 1829-1832. But even more fun is promised in Private Passions: John Sessions has written a script in which Felix Mendelssohn and his sister Fanny discuss their life, work and favourite pieces of music with Michael Berkeley. John Sessions performs the role of Felix and Rebecca Front is Fanny. A slightly more conventional outlook is present in the ongoing Composer of the Week, when Donald MacLeod explores not just Felix but Fanny too. As Fanny doesn't have an anniversary this year, I think it is very fine of them to include her.
Louise Fryer's Saturday and Sunday Salons feature many of Mendelssohn's great chamber works, while Rob Cowan explores classic recordings in Vintage Mendelssohn. On Sunday Morning, Iain Burnside broadcasts live from the V&A Museum in London, with performances by ace violinist Daniel Hope and friends.
Dan Hope, it seems, has turned out to be descended from Mendelssohn's teacher. Relations of Mendelssohn and his associates are popping up all over the place (see the Mendelssohn Revealed preview, too)! But here's one of the most significant: in Mendelssohn, the Nazis and Me, writer, producer and broadcaster Sheila Hayman, the four-times-great granddaughter of Fanny Mendelssohn, explores the identity of Felix in his lifetime and after his death, the effect of Wagner's anti-semitic polemic on his reputation and the banning of Mendelssohn by the Nazis.
For the full schedule, please visit the main R3 pages. And if my Complication persists, at least there is something on the radio to cheer me up.