Karajan's Magic and Myth, John Bridcut's film about the controversial Austrian maestro, was repeated on BBC Four at 7pm on Sunday 22 May. The film hadn't been seen since its premiere screening in December 2014. It is now available on iPlayer.
Twenty-five years after his death, Herbert von Karajan still excites controversy about the quality of his music-making. He dominated the recording industry for decades, and set up his own company to film almost four dozen great classical works as his legacy. In this film, directed by John Bridcut for 1212 Productions, musicians who worked with him in the Philharmonia Orchestra in London after the war, and during his long stewardship of the Berlin Philharmonic, explain how Karajan made music. "I don’t know what it is about Karajan", says the flautist Sir James Galway; "he had this sort of magic, or this allure – he had something very special." Other contributions come from Placido Domingo, Jessye Norman, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir Neville Marriner and Anne-Sophie Mutter.
After its first screening, the Financial Times wrote: "Another brilliant piece by John Bridcut, a mythical magician of classical music documentaries" .
Elizabeth at 90 – A Family Tribute is now being issued on DVD by BBC Worldwide, and will be released on Monday 6 June. It is also being distributed for international broadcast. The DVD version will be the extended, feature-length version of the programme, as shown on BBC One on Sunday 24 April.
The Crux team has been celebrating its recent successes with its own label of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand. "This wine", the label says, "certainly lives up to its namesake by setting palates a-twinkle". We like to be thought of as "bursting with zesty lime and tropical fruit aromas to create a super-fresh flavour". It makes enjoyable drinking under the Southern Cross constellation apparently, though in Britain we would have to travel back to the fourth millennium BC to test that experience. Available to all Crux supporters at Morrisons: 3 bottles for £16
Elizabeth at 90 – A Family Tribute achieved the biggest BBC audience of the week. The latest figures give the first transmission (on Her Majesty's actual 90th birthday) a viewing figure of 7.5 million, beating EastEnders. Its share of the total audience was 30%. The extended repeat on the following Sunday afternoon followed up with an audience of 2.4 million, making a consolidated figure for the week of 9.9 million.
Crux Productions has now embarked on a film about King George III, based on his private papers held at the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle. Last April, Her Majesty The Queen launched a five-year project to digitise the Georgian papers and make them available to the public online. No more than about 12% of this archive has been previously published, and noone yet quite knows what it will reveal. The documentary, for BBC Two, will be presented by Robert Hardman.
Also underway are a long-term project about the history of the BBC, aimed at the Corporation's centenary in 2022, and a film about the classical music world's greatest tenor. Details to follow in due course.