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Countdown to the big weekend

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Jessica Duchen Jessica Duchen | 11:54 UK time, Monday, 4 May 2009

juggling_oranges_sml.jpgJust a few days to go before the big Mendelssohn weekend on Radio 3, and I'm wondering how best to cope. Many of us these days habitually lead multitasking lives in which we feel as if we're keeping ten oranges in the air with only a hand and a half to help. In an ideal world, we'd all be free to listen to the radio all day every day, but I for one am becoming increasingly grateful for the 'Listen Again' feature.

When it comes to Mendelssohn, 'music while you work' doesn't work. I'm staring into my screen trying to pen whateveritmaybe, then on comes Felix...and next thing I know I'm lost in mountain scenery, mysterious seas or Biblical visions, or drifting away into speculation as to why I never got to grips with a particular Song without Words, let alone the good old Second Piano Concerto - and suddenly it's the end of another hour of non-achievement.

Sunday afternoon is a red-letter listen time: at 3pm 'Mendelssohn Revealed' is set to explore some of the most fascinating aspects of the composer's life and work. Tom Service, Louise Fryer and some distinguished studio guests including writer and broadcaster Judith Chernaik and conductor Ben Parry (a descendant of the composer) reassess Mendelssohn's reputation and legacy 200 years after his birth. What lies behind our tendency to underrate him?

Conductors Riccardo Chailly and Christopher Hogwood discuss what his music means to them, and pianist Roberto Prosseda comments on the reconstruction of the Third Piano Concerto. Commentator Norman Lebrecht talks about Mendelssohn's Jewish background and the creative inhibitions that may have arisen from it, and Tom Service goes in search of the truth behind the recent stories about the composer's infatuation with the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind (I wonder if they let him look at The Affidavit?). There'll be news from some of the hundred choirs around the country singing 'O For the Wings of a Dove' this weekend. You can join in the debate by emailing composers@bbc.co.uk.

But I'll be multitasking again...I'll be at the Queen Elizabeth Hall that afternoon to do a talk with Yuja Wang, 20-year-old Chinese virtuoso pianist, after her recital. I can't wait to hear what news (if any) Tom turns up around the Jenny Lind story, though, so I'll be back at my computer as soon as humanly possible to find out.

Check back soon for more news of the weekend celebrations ahead, and more, too, about A Midsummer Night's Dream...


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