Classical: The Five Best Concerts

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The Independent Culture
1

Wigmore Christmas Concert tomorrow

Devised by cellist Steven Isserlis to mark his 40th birthday, the programme includes Schubert, Faure, Schumann and seasonal fare. Joshua Bell, Melvyn Tan and Joan Rodgers are among Isserlis's guests.

Wigmore Hall, London W (07-935 24) 7.30pm

2

LSO Christmas Concerts tomorrow

Popular carols for audience and orchestra but prefaced by a classical selection, including extracts from Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.

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

3

Choir of King's College, Cambridge Mon

Perhaps the choir which is associated with Christmas more than any other teams up with the Philharmonia Orchestra for a range of seasonal music and carols, conducted by Stephen Cleobury.

Royal Albert Hall, London SW6 (07-589 822) 7.45pm

4

Nativitas Tue

A medieval Yuletide extravaganza from the New London Consort, directed by Philip Pickett. Carols, processions, mumming and the Rouen Shepherds' Play are all on the menu.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London SW (07-960 4242) 7.45pm

5

Messiah Wed

Perhaps the pick of Messiahs happening this week. The choir Polyphony and the orchestra Canzona are joined by soprano Emma Kirkby and countertenor James Bowman.

St John's, Smith Square, London SW (07-222 06) 7.30pm

NEW RELEASES

Berlioz L'Enfance du Christ

Orchestre National de Lille/Casadesus (Naxos)

Berlioz's sacred trilogy receives a timely interpretation from native French forces, marshalled by Jean-Claude Casadesus. Although ostensibly an oratorio, Berlioz's conception is original, centered on Herod's Dream and the Holy Family's Flight into Egypt. Atmosphere and dramatic pacing are both in evidence, plus sharp portrayals and staunch choral interludes. HHHH

Schumann String Quartets Nos &3, Gabrieli String Quartet (Meridian)

Polished, if not totally thrilling, playing characterises the Gabrieli's approach to Schumann. There is certainly plenty of expressiveness, the musical arguments are cleanly debated and there is a keen sense of the quartet's architectonics. Yet the ultimate gist is too Classical, as opposed to more warmly Romantic HHH

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