From PBS, an irresistible musical menu
Whether you're a Pavarotti or a Brubeck buff, there's music in (and on) the air for you on public broadcasting this week. Luciano Pavarotti in Concert at Madison Square Garden (PBS, Saturday, Dec. 8, 8-10 p.m., check local listings) is a short version of a concert taped last summer by WNET, New York. Flashing his famous white handkerchief as a kind of security blanket, this acclaimed Italian tenor sings an all-Italian program, drawing from both his operatic repertoire and the pop music idiom.
The New Jersey Symphony Orchstra, conducted by Emerson Buckley with flute soloist Andre Griminelli, accompanies the primissimo tenore in everything from ''La Donna e mobile'' to ''O sole mio.''
OK, so there's a little schmaltz on the pasta.
But there's no schmaltz at the Newport (R.I.) Jazz Festival. It's all cucumber cool there, as the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Louie Bellson, Stan Getz, and Michel Petrucciani do their classic jazz thing.
Jazz Comes Home to Newport (PBS, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 10-11 p.m., check local listings) is more than a taped record of a concert, though - it's a short history of the Newport Jazz Festival, which was begun in 1954, a travelogue about Newport, and a series of short interviews with some of the jazz greats who took part in this year's festival.
One image I guarantee you will never forget: French jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani, who is a little person, proving that size is no handicap as he stomps on the built-up pedals and pounds the keyboard like the real giant that he is.
It's a fine show, with music guaranteed to mellow anybody out as the camera sweeps along the shore and into the yacht-lined harbor.
The program is so good that I reluctantly forgive the JVC Company of America, the underwriter of both the festival and the TV show, for the gross commercialism symbolized by the constant display of its logo on camera.
Both ''Pavarotti'' and ''Newport'' will be simulcast in stereo on many FM radio stations, so check your local listings. 'Acid Rain: More Bad News'
''Help us!'' cry the trees.
One of the most potentially devastating environmental problems of the 1980s has emerged from the nation's rivers and skies and entered our forests. According to Acid Rain: New Bad News (''Nova,'' PBS, Tuesday, Dec. 11, check local listings for premiere and repeats), acid rain is a much more imminent threat to our forests than we imagined in the past.
''Nova'' reports that leading scientists now believe that forest destruction is not due mainly to the sulfur emissions from industrial smokestacks, which are responsble for water pollution. The major hazard to forest life appears to be nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon emissions from certain types of industrial plants and automobiles. The program discusses in detail the ways our civilization can control these pollutants.
''Nova'' travels to Germany and Scandinavia to gather its data. One image that will probably remain in most viewers' minds is a shot of a dying tree in Germany's Black Forest. On its sickly trunk a German conservationist has hung a rather plaintive sign. ''Hilf uns! (Help us!) it pleads.
''Acid Rain,'' produced by John Angier of Chedd-Angier Productions for WGBH/Boston's ''Nova'' series, performs a major public service by sounding the alarm clearly and loudly. ''We are talking about a problem that involves global habitability,'' one expert proclaims. ''It really involves a second look at our spaceship Earth and how we like to see this spaceship develop in the future.'' Without resorting to panic or hysteria, ''Nova'' presents the case in its usual no-nonsense style, forcing us all to take that second, but we hope not final, look.