Thursday, 3 November 2011


Elegantly shot in some of Europe's finest cities, including London, this new four part series on the symphony featured the personable yet strangely dead-pan Simon Russell Beale as a presenter.

Starting with Haydn (didn't Charles Hazelwood do something similar about him for the Beeb a short while ago?)through Mozart and Beethoven, Russell Beale traced the symphony's earliest journeys through a succession of ornate palaces and concerts halls. Lovely though they were, the visual impact of each lessened the longer the programme went on.

Frustratingly, as is so often the case with classical music docs, very little of the symphonies being performed were allowed to breathe for more than thirty seconds before someone started gabbling over them. A pity; the excellent Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, under the direction of Mark Elder, appeared to be on cracking form. With an asset like this, who better than they to really make the case for the symphony?