Classical: The five best concerts

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New Year Viennese Concerts Thur, Fri

The LSO, under John Georgiadis, usually comes up with the finest traditional Strauss compilations at this time of year. High jinx and joie de vivre, plus the technique and style this music also requires.

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


Welcome, Welcome Glorious Morn Thur

That fine period-instrument ensemble, The King's Consort, directed by Robert King, mounts a rousing New Year's Eve all-Purcell concert.

Wigmore Hall, London SE (07-960 4242) 7.30pm


Brindisi String Quartet Wed

This dynamic foursome provides an inviting line-up: Bartok's 2nd Quartet, penned during the First World War; 3 Fantasias by Purcell; and Schubert's late and imposing D887.

Wigmore Hall, London SE (07-960 4242) 7.30pm


The Pirates of Penzance tonight, Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri

The D'Oyly Carte Company continues to do what it does best:- the Savoy operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Here it performs the duo's Cornish- set farce.

Queen's Theatre, London SW (07-494 5040) 7.30pm


Madama Butterfly today, Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri

English Festival Opera stages Puccini's weepie with Italian soprano Irene Cerboncini in the title role. Fenton Gray directs and Simon Gray conducts the EFO Orchestra and Chorus.

QEH, London SE (07-960 4242) 7.30pm


Schnittke Cello Concerto

Saarbrucken Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kligel/Markson (Naxos)

Although this disc was recorded eight years ago, it forms a fitting tribute to the great Russian polystylist who died earlier this year. Schnittke penned the concerto on recovering from a stroke in 985. Soloist Maria Kliegel eloquently captures the contrasting moods, while Markson's conducting provides an intrepid accompaniment - a must-have Schnittke disc. HHHH

Bach-Busoni, Beethoven, Schumann Evgeny Kissin

(RCA Red Seal)

The young virtuoso's recital disc includes a dynamic account of Busoni's transcription of the Chaconne from Bach's 2nd Partita, two Rondos by Beethoven, including the blisteringly executed Rage Over a Lost Pen, and a limpid Schumann Kreisleriana. Superbly recorded, with genuine "live" presence. HHHH