Mr Merlin Presents: A Contemporary Classical Extravaganza

We have a very eclec­tic col­lec­tion of music for you today, fea­tur­ing what I think we can by and large jus­ti­fi­ably call “con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal music”. The vast major­i­ty of it was writ­ten since 1945, and most of it was writ­ten as “seri­ous” rather than “pop­u­lar” music (we will ignore, for the time being, Mike Bat­t’s com­ment that there’s no such thing as “pop­u­lar ” and “seri­ous” music, there’s just “pop­u­lar” and “unpop­u­lar”).

Today’s pro­gramme ranges all over the place, from the tune­ful to the angu­lar (though it’s unashamed­ly biased towards the for­mer), from famil­iar com­posers like Wal­ton to the Pen­guin Café Orches­tra; from John Rut­ter’s atmos­pher­ic choral pieces to Tim Souster’s atmos­pher­ic electronic/con­crete works.

There are going to be some very odd jux­ta­po­si­tions today and it will be inter­est­ing to hear how they work. You might hear the North Sea Radio Orches­tra, for exam­ple, fol­lowed by the Bal­anes­cu Quar­tet play­ing Kraftwerk (there’s also the Muf­fin Men play­ing Zap­pa, for that mat­ter). Don­na McK­e­vit­t’s haunt­ing string quar­tet-based set­tings of Derek Jar­man’s poet­ry fol­lowed by Sir Arthur Blis­s’s suite based on the music he wrote for the film ver­sion of H G Wells’ Things to Come. And talk­ing of film music com­posers (though there is delib­er­ate­ly lit­tle actu­al film music in today’s pro­gramme), lis­ten out for John Bar­ry’s deep har­monies from his album The Beyond­ness Of Things and some of Christo­pher Gun­ning’s out­stand­ing con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal works. But above all, enjoy some sel­dom- and not-so-sel­dom aired tracks from Mr Mer­lin’s Music Machine.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

You may also like to tune in to our exper­i­men­tal High Qual­i­ty HE-AAC stream at

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