Alan Oke as Gandhi in 'Satyagraha'

Classical review: Icelandic Chamber Choir / Agnarsson perform John Tavener

Southwark Cathedral, London

Album review: Benjamin Britten, Violin Concerto, Jan Latham-Koenig Orchid

Britten’s sole violin concerto is constructed from simple scales rising and falling expressively over exotic Spanish rhythms, but within this framework, from the opening silken thread to passages of great passion and profundity, the concerto unfolds into a piece of great magnitude.

Mystical: Sir John Tavener, who died last week, at the age of 69, photographed in 2004

John Tavener concert at Southwark Cathedral becomes his memorial service

After the moving encore came the tears

No turning back: the playwright and ‘Independent’ music critic Jessica Duchen

My tricky waltz with Wagner

The German composer was a confirmed anti-Semite – but that didn't deter our correspondent, who loves his music, from wanting to write a play to celebrate his bicentenary

Classical review: Jerusalem Quartet / Leonskaja

Wigmore Hall, London

John Tavener recorded on The Beatles’ Apple label

Sir John Tavener: Pioneer of ‘new’ classical music dies at the age of 69

The composer’s work breathed new life into the popular genre

Classical review: Reich/Currie/Glass, Royal Festival Hall

The penultimate weekend of the Rest Is Noise festival highlighted the best and worst of American ‘minimalism’: with a piano recital in which Andrew Zolinsky showed what spells Cage and Feldman could weave through the suggestive use of silence, and with rare personal appearances by the movement’s high priests, Steve Reich and Philip Glass. 

Classical album review: Benjamin Britten, War Requiem – Antonio Pappano (Warner)

Of all the many great works by Britten revisited live and on disc for the centenary of the composer’s birth this month, perhaps none packs the punch of his War Requiem, the words of the Latin Mass for the dead punctuated by the frank front-line poetry of Wilfred Owen.

A scene from The Magic Flute

Opera review: The Magic Flute

Simon McBurney successfully conveys this work's evanescent mystery

The Mariinsky Stradivarius Ensemble

Review: Mariinsky Stradivarius Ensemble, Milton Court Concert Hall, London

The Berlin Phil, the Gewandhaus, and the CBSO have long done it, and now the Mariinsky are doing it too: sending a posse of top instrumentalists as chamber-music outriders to their main orchestral push. Making their British debut under Valery Gergiev in the Guildhall's new Milton Court auditorium, the Stradivarius Ensemble went through their paces with three works which showcased their instruments as much as their talent. For these were no ordinary instruments: Strads and Guarneris, Guandinis and Amatis, all from the golden age of string manufacture.

Classical review: Zehetmair Quartet, Beethoven/Bruckner/Hartmann/Holliger (ECM)

Four mighty landmarks in 180 years of string quartet writing start with Beethoven’s late Op 135 of 1826 followed by a Bruckner rarity, his C minor “student” composition written in 1862 at the age of 38 when the master of choral and organ music was learning orchestration.

Simon Keenlyside in Wozzeck at the Royal Opera House

Opera review: Wozzeck, Royal Opera House

Driven mad by a disastrous love-life and the horrors of war, the German soldier Johann Christian Woyzeck was publicly beheaded in 1824 for the murder of his unfaithful lover after medical tests 'disproved' his defence of temporary insanity. His story gave rise to a play by Georg Buchner, a radical young medic who presented him as 'rationally' paranoid, ie the world really was out to get him. The opera which Alban Berg created from the story a hundred years later was predicated on the same assumption: for his Wozzeck, all encounters with his social superiors are humiliating beyond endurance.

Opera review: La Traviata, King's Head Theatre, London

Since carrying off an Olivier for their pocket Boheme, OperaUpClose have certainly fulfilled their initial promise. Their setting of Verdi's A Masked Ball in an IKEA store worked surprisingly well, as did their relocation of Tosca to Communist East Germany. After such exploits, shoe-horning a Twenties Traviata into the King's Head looked like a doddle. Director Robin Norton-Hale had placed the action in something resembling a railway carriage in Tsarist-Russia, but the costumes announced the flapper period loud and clear; the adaptation and translation was her own. 

Frank Zappa's 200 Motels at London's Royal Festival Hall

Classical review: 200 Motels, Royal Festival Hall, London

Among the things Frank Zappa had in common with his coeval Lou Reed was an interest in the music of the classical avant garde. But Zappa's involvement went deeper: echoes of Stravinsky and Schoenberg permeated many of his compositions, underpinned by the credo of the scientist-composer Edgard Varese, who enlisted ambient noise as part of his compositional armoury. Zappa followed suit, and into his 200 Motels he poured everything from his rackety life with his spaced-out rock band The Mothers of Invention.

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