Sunday, April 11, 2010

Straight in at number 98

So, BBC Radio 3 is to broadcast the official classical album chart now. It will challenge "crusty old preconceptions", according to Rob Cowan, who by the sounds of it is gradually turning into dodgy classical huckster Les Introuvables. "Never mind the quality, feel the length!" Or, as Homer Simpson might say, "mmm... crusty old preconceptions...". Meanwhile, Sara Mohr-Pietsch says "I'm looking forward to exploring the chart, and sharing my personal reflections on new arrivals and enduring bestsellers with Breakfast listeners". I wonder will those "personal reflections" include "Oh for fuck's sake, not fucking André fucking Rieu again"? In fairness though, the Specialist Classical Chart is a respectable-looking thing, and Rieu's the only one on the current chart who's unlikely to grace the pages of your favourite CD review magazines. But that's not the point, is it? This is Radio 3.

Which segues us neatly to Classic FM, and the latest Hall of Fame. Yes, another list. This one at least has the merit of comprehensiveness, with 300 entries. I have a fondness for the Hall of Fame, I admit, which stems mostly from the fact that it's been going since 1996 and I can have fun comparing years. (Yes, every year I put the new data into a spreadsheet... this nerdlike behaviour stemmed from years ago when I wanted to use the chart for guidance in making some "popular classics" compilations). Mrs Nereffid suggests you could - given enough years of it - use it to construct some sort of "social history of classical music". I'm not sure you could go that far; "idle speculation" is probably more like it. For instance, why is Bruch's violin concerto no.1 not as popular as it used to be? (It was #1 for the first 5 years, now it's down to #10) And, why is Debussy's Clair de lune more popular than before? Why is that staple of long ago, Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, never in the list? Also, how did Berg's violin concerto sneak in at #210 two years ago, only to disappear immediately? And why did Vaughan Williams suddenly become more popular in 2008? That's an easy one, of course - his anniversary in 2007. But why (on Earth) did Malcolm Arnold's The Padstow Lifeboat appear out of nowhere this year, straight in at number 98?

1 comment:

Bob D said...

I love a list and Classic FM's hall of fame is right up there.
I do wish they'd reveal the number of votes cast...especially for number 300.
For years I have voted for lesser known pieces Les Preludes (only one Liszt again this year!)Huapango, Toward the Unknown Region, Taras Bulba,Braga Santos Syms 3 or 4. With no success.
I missed No 98 so don't know who performed it but I would imagine if it were Black Dyke or Grimethorpe and the word was spread around they would generate enough votes.