Bbc proms

Thank goodness Busoni’s Piano Concerto is returning to the Proms

On 5 August, Ferruccio Busoni’s Piano Concerto will be performed at the Proms for only the second time. It should have been the third time, but a Musician’s Union strike in 1980 forced the cancellation of the concert at which Martin Jones had been booked to give the première. Jones is a fearless virtuoso, still recording in his eighties, but one can’t help wondering whether his disappointment back then was tinged with relief. In one place, the soloist’s fingers must wrap themselves around 128 notes in a single bar Garrick Ohlsson, a long-time champion of the work, describes its difficulties as ‘absolutely immense, and 25 per cent of this piece

Cindy Yu, Charlie Taylor and Petroc Trelawney

17 min listen

Cindy Yu tells the story of how she got to know Westminster’s alleged Chinese agent and the astonishment of seeing herself pictured alongside him when the story broke (01.12), Charlie Taylor, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, talks breakouts, bureaucracy and stabbings, and wonders – where have all the inspirational leaders gone (06.45), and Petroc Trelawney shares his classical notebook and describes a feeling of sadness as the BBC Proms wraps up for another year (11.54). Produced and presented by Linden Kemkaran.

Couldn’t the BBC have filled at least some of the seats? First night of the Proms reviewed

The Royal Albert Hall, as Douglas Adams never wrote, is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. Which is great if you want a colossal audience; less great as a venue for classical music. True, sound engineers have brought us a long way from the 19th century, when one critic (it might have been Bernard Shaw) described a Weber overture wafting around that cavernous acoustic like a feather caught in a draught. If you tune in to Radio 3 — which is how most listeners have always heard the Proms — it sounds fine. But it wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice of venue

I’ve seen wars more amusing than BBC comedy

Last weekend’s papers claimed that the government desires a ‘massively pruned back’ BBC. Former Conservative cabinet minister Damian Green and someone called Huw Merriman spoke out against this, which allowed the BBC to put the headline ‘BBC licence fee: Tory MPs warn No. 10 against fight’ atop its characteristically impartial coverage. I suppose there are various reactions one can have to this, ranging from outrage at supposed ‘cultural vandalism’, via a vague shrug, all the way through to the full Charles Moore. In recent years I have moved through all these stages. The discovery that mattered most was the realisation that the less BBC I had in my life, the