Uk Music

Tradition, rather than trying to emulate 6 Music, is the future of BBC Radio 4

And there is the potential pitfall, with a musical discussion programme like this, of the presenters sounding a bit like tedious music snobs arguing over the stereo at a party. Thankfully the seasoned music radio DJ Cerys Matthews was a star here, remembering to keep steering the conversation back round to the listener.

Add to Playlist did sound uncannily like music radio, perhaps 6 Music in particular, at times. Boakye kicked things off at the top, for instance, by announcing “let’s do this”. Not your typical Radio 4 introduction, but then maybe that’s the point; this is part of an attempt by Radio 4 controller Mohit Bakaya to freshen things up. If it can settle down, find its style and keep the focus on how the music is made, it should happily occupy the musical gap in Radio 4’s arts coverage.

But Radio 4 shouldn’t think they’ve invented the art of discussing music in a culturally highbrow way. Over on Radio 3, Between the Ears: An Orkney Tapestry (Sunday, Radio 3) effortlessly showed how to be daring, creative and culturally genre-crossing. Composer Erland Cooper and violinist Daniel Pioro set off on a musical pilgrimage around Orkney to commemorate the literary achievements of George Mackay Brown, playing music among the brochs and rock formations, sheep and singing seals of the coast. It was wild and inspiring. 

Meanwhile, a much more assured start to Radio 4’s new arts strand was the inaugural episode of This Cultural Life (Radio 4, Saturday), a long-form interview series in which John Wilson will speak to cultural figures about their creative process, inspirations and experiences. The first guest was Kenneth Branagh, partly there to plug his new film, Belfast, but also talking about his early memories of performance, his love of Shakespeare, and what it was like to perform at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

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