Tricks of musical television;Arts

25th December 1998 at 00:00
Classics for Kids BBC2, December 29, 30, 31.

The recording session for a television programme bears little resemblance to the finished product on screen. The editor's art is to create order out of disorder, to translate the chaos of the moment into a smooth sequence.

And so it will be with Classics for Kids, a series of three concerts of orchestral titbits scheduled for broadcast on BBC 2 in the gap between Christmas and New Year.

Broadly based on the popular live concerts promoted in Glasgow and Edinburgh by Children's Classic Concerts, BBC Scotland's version uses two presenters well known from children's TV, Gail Porter and Chris Jarvis, and intersperses music with backstage interviews and demonstrations.

By seating the audience around the orchestra, the producer, Andrew Lockyer, has tried to "get away from the traditional proscenium look of orchestral concerts on television". The repertoire includes the minuet from Mozart's Symphony no 39 and a percussion concerto by Rosauro, both accessible but well clear of the obvious.

Judging by the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on the afternoon of the second recording, the TV ambience will be closer to Top of the Pops than the Vienna Musikvereinssaal. Powerful coloured spotlights beamed through a haze of stage smoke, and Jarvis and Porter maintained a punchy, cheerful presentation.

My neighbours screamed with delight at the acrobatics of the cameras, gyrating at the end of booms or racing up and down on a trolley behind the Orchestra of Scottish Opera's percussion section. TV viewers, free of these distractions, will probably learn more about classical music.

Christopher Lambton

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