Classical: The Five Best Concerts

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1

Mitsuko Uchida Thur

The virtuoso pianist has recently been turning her attention away from the Austro-German tradition to Chopin. Hear her intellectual breadth and great technique in the 24 Preludes, Op.28.

Royal Festival Hall, London SE (07-22 3333) 7.30pm

2

Orchestre des Champs-Elysees Mon

The French period-instrument orchestra is conducted by Phillipe Herreweghe, the main work is Beethoven's Symphony No 9, prefaced by Mozart's Masonic Funeral Music.

Barbican Hall, London EC2 (07-638 689) 7.30pm

3

Shostakovich Chamber Concert Tue

This "scratch" quartet comprises violinists Maxim Vengerov and Alexander Barantschik, violist Yuri Bashmert and cellist Msistlav Rostropovich playing Shostakovich's String Quartets Nos 2, 7 and 8.

Barbican Hall, London EC2 (07-638 889) 7.30pm

4

Verdi Requiem tonight

Swansea Festival boasts a Verdi Requiem conducted by Richard Hickox with soloists Janice Watson, Anne-Marie Owens and Dennis O'Neill, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Brangwyn Hall, Swansea (0792 47575) 7.30pm

5

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group tonight

Best-known for his player-piano pieces, the late Conlon Nancarrow left behind his fiendishly difficult three movements for chamber orchestra. The second movement receives its world premiere from the BCMG, arranged by Thomas Ades.

CBSO Centre, Birmingham (02-236 5622) 7.30pm

NEW RELEASES

Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals

Czecho-Slovak RSO, Lenard (Naxos)

Alas, Johnny Morris's droning verses and narration obfuscate rather than illuminate Saint-Saens's bestiary here, especially at the points where he fatally talks (and even "sings') over the music. And the ensemble sound is already woefully distant throughout. Lacklustre accounts of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite and Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice make this a disc to avoid. H

Martin/Pizzetti Masses

Westminster Cathedral Choir (Hyperion)

Voted Record of the Year in the 998 Gramophone Awards, these blistering accounts of two unaccompanied masses composed in the same year - 922 - are a rightful winner for this most prized of accolades. Beautiful and eloquent performances, with the WCO achieving a translucent and penetrating tone under James O'Donnell's direction. HHHHH

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