six of the best buys this weekend

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The Independent Culture

1. Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3 (Philips) Electrifying virtuosity and astonishing sensitivity from Martha Argerich "live" from 1982.

2. Handel Arias (Forlane) Ann Murray brings passion and acute characterisation to a repertoire she has made her own.

3. Don Giovanni (Archiv) Another John Eliot Gardiner winner. A sizzling, vintage performance.

4. Delius Piano Concerto (EMI Eminence) Pianist Piers Lane is clearly in love with this flawed but fabulous repertoire.

5. The Vagabond (Deutsche Grammophon) A hugely successful attempt by Bryn Terfel to restore Finzi, Ireland et al to a central place on the concert platform.

6. Richard Strauss: Symphony for Wind Instruments (Philips) Ripe horns and reedy reeds in romantic and mellow mood.

1. Miles Davis: The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel (Columbia CXK 66955) This eight-CD set costs nearly 100 quid. But what price the definitive modernist statement?

2. Sly & Robbie Present the Taxi Gang: Hail Up the Taxi (Island Jamaica IJCD 3002) Jamaican rhythm duo in a dancehall daze.

3. Gorky's Zygotic Mynci: Bwyd Time (Angst CD 059) Partisan Welsh pop whimsy beyond mortal comprehension.

4. Ben Harper: Fight for Your Mind (Virgin America CDVUS 93) Nineties blues with tough moral agenda.

5. Various Artists: Universal Sounds of America (Soul Jazz SJR CD27) A bold trek through Seventies cosmic jazz.

6. Terence Blanchard: Romantic Defiance (Columbia 4804892) Elegant, measured but passionate contemporary jazz with real tunes.

1. Stargate (PG; Guild; rental) James Spader and Kurt Russell are the intergalactic adventurers who stumble upon a future where Egyptian chic rules, OK.

2. Jean de Florette/ Manon Des Sources (U; Electric; pounds 14.99 each). Claude Berri's modern classics get a deserved re-release. Put aside a summer afternoon for them.

3. Above the Rim (15; First Independent; rental). Cheesy but cheery basketball-in-the-'hood drama with sparkling soundtrack.

4. The Wicker Man (18; Warner; pounds 10.99) Dotty British horror picture with a troubling flavour all its own.

5. Black Beauty (U; Warner; pounds 14.99). Lyrical new version of Anna Sewell's novel.

6. The Scout (12; Fox; Rental). Sharp baseball comedy with god-like Albert Brooks as a scout who uncovers a bionic young hotshot.

1. Angela Carter: Burning Your Boats (Chatto, pounds 20) Ranks with her collected essays as her finest work.

2. Alice Munro: Open Secrets (Vintage, pounds 5.99) Rich, glowing simplicity. Another winner from one of the finest writers alive.

3. William Trevor: The Collected Stories (Penguin, pounds 11) Economy and understatement used to magnificently expressive effect.

4. Shena Mackay: Collected Short Stories (Penguin, pounds 6.99) Suburban straw spun into prose of gold.

5. Best American Short Stories 1994 (Houghton Miflin, pounds 7.99) A typically varied collection from this essential annual guide to new American writing.

6. Alison Lurie: Women and Ghosts (Minerva pounds 6.99) An unusual departure from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Foreign Affairs.