Classical: The five best concerts

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Der Ring des Nibelungen 28, 29 Sept ,3 Oct

The Royal Opera turn its attention to Wagner's epic Ring. Conducted by major Wagnerian Bernard Haitink, the performances boast casts including John Tomlinson, currently the finest Wotan.

Royal Albert Hall, London SW7 (07-589 822) 7.30pm, 5.30pm, 5.30pm & 4pm respectively


Spirit Garden 2 Oct

Andrew Davis conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in late Toru Takemitsu's Star-Isle and A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden, alongside Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe. Royal Festival Hall, London SEl (07- 960 4242) 7.30pm


LSO 27 Sept

Messiaen's vast meditation on Christ's Transfiguration. Rare airing of this transcendental masterwork (see First Night, opposite).

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


Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra Oct

Conducted by Hans Vonk, this fine transatlantic outfit prove to be the new season's first distinguished overseas visitors to the South Bank. The orchestra performs Schumann's Cello Concerto, with Lynn Harrell as soloist.

Festival Hall, London SEl (07-960 4242) 7.30pm


Poro , 2 Oct

Another rare Handel opera, originally written to mark the return to London of the castrato Senesino. This production finds countertenor William Towers taking the title role and Peter Shayne directing.

Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, London EC (07050 03064), 7pm