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Radio Review #2784

Faking a Library with Andrew McGinger [Saturdays 9am Dorset Radio 3]

Review by Rita Orr-Dio Wayfs

Once one of the jewels in the crown of Dorset Radio's weekend programming, Faking a Library - the long running series in which a classical music expert recommends the best version of a well-known piece of classical music - has been on a serious slide. Listeners have been turning off in droves for more than a decade now but particularly recently, ever since presenter Andrew McGinger and his producers altered the show's well-established and much-appreciated format to allow for the introduction of greater audience participation, the systematic watering--down content and more freedom to incorporate inane studio banter.

DBC's Saturday Morning Filing a Library presenter Andrew McGinger - a man who has turned a well-respected and must-listen "institution" into a "might as well turn off the radio and get the weekly shag out of the way before the football starts" moment.

As one listener put it: "Consideration of the merits of particular recordings used to take the form of a well-constructed audio "essay" through which the critic would explore in his/her/they own words the piece, its background and performance history. Now all we get is the exchange of banal tripe through which the critic is encouraged to agree with him/her/they selves with the help of frequent interjections by the clueless McGinger".

Take for example this week's consideration of Eric Fishwick's Lady Goddamit! Suite. To begin with there are listeners who might argue that the choice itself is suspect. Is Lady Godammit! an essential library piece? Does the fact that it is the only one of Fishwick's oeuvre to have received more than one recording qualify it for a properly comparative review? Then one might ask, is University of Afpuddle Professor of Popular Culture - Mayleene Wright-Onne - whose only publication in the field of music [My Passionate Night With Ziggy Osmington [Threadbone Erotica No 56] suggests an expertise in fields other than classical music, the right person to review Fishwick's starkly serial piece? And finally, take this for a typical exchange:

Eric Fishwick's Lady Godammit Suite was the subject of this week's Faking a Library. The recording by the Thrupiece Philharmonic conducted by Irina Legova was the critic's final choice [from two].

M W-O: Listen to this passage in which the trumpet plays some notes

[34 second passage is played in which trumpet notes blare from mushy background]

A McG: Gosh! Yes! You can really hear the trumpets. Would you say he was obsessed by trumpets?

M W-O: Probably. He used them in many of his pieces which might amount to an obsession.

A McG: So you might say he was obsessed with trumpets

M W-O: Yes they were definitely his obsession. He used them a lot.

A McG: Well that explains his obsession with trumpets and his use of them in this passage. It was obviously obsessive for him and probably why he used them a lot.


M W-O: I love the way the Thrupiece Philharmonic dig into the strings here to produce a really weighty string tone

[98 second passage is played in which string notes are clearly audible]

A McG: I see what you mean: you can really hear them did into the strings there can't you?

M W-O: Yes you can. I am pleased you picked up on that as well.

A McG: Well it's hard to miss when it's been pointed out, but I did notice it myself independently. Honestly. In fact, I said to our producer how I had noticed that the Thrupiece Philharmonic really dig into the strings here to produce a really weighty string tone.

M W-O: Absolutely. It's the weight of tone that digging into the strings at this point produces that is so impressive.

A McG: Yes you really notice how impressive it is. Do all orchestra's produce that weight of tone at this point?

M W-O: Well, no not really. It depends how deeply they dig into the strings.

A McG: So digging into the strings is key if you want to produce the right weight of tone in this passage

M W-O: Absolutely

A McG: So, moving on. What do you have for us next.

M W-O: I thought I would play the start of the 3rd movement where there is a lovely passage in which the trumpet plays some notes. They are, in a way, a perfect example of how obsessive Fishwick could be in his compositions for orchestra ...

[18 second passage is played in which trumpet notes blare from mushy background]

A McG: Gosh! Yes! You can really hear the trumpets. Would you say he was obsessed by trumpets? .......... etc etc.

Despite "concerning" listening figures, a spokesperson for DBC said it had no intention of reverting to the previously successful format for the programme, arguing that, in accordance with Dorset Arts Council funding compliant non-discriminatory and inclusivity guidelines demanded that all of its programming should be accessible and preferably appealing to 13 year olds with limited access to education, a short attention span and a chip on their shoulder where "culcha" was concerned.

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