Arts and Entertainment

Wigmore Hall, London

Album review: William Sweeney, Tree O' Licht (Delphian)

The cello is key to the music of William Sweeney, something that becomes luminously apparent in these works showcasing the skills of Robert Irvine, either solo or partnered by pianist Fali Pavri or second cellist Erkki Lahesmaa. Inspired by Gaelic psalm-singing, the title track features the two cellists' lines intertwining like a double helix: the effect resembles a lower-register "Lark Ascending", until a pungent dischord appears, prompting more disparate progressions. "Sonata for Cello and Piano" offers an intriguing combination of exploration and introspection. But "The Poet Tells of His Fame" is the standout performance, Irvine playing over pre-recorded cello samples treated to give a series of tonal washes, whines and textures.

John Tavener at Bridgewater Hall as part of Manchester International Festival

Classical review: John Tavener, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester International Festival

Very occasionally a performance is so special that the audience feels reluctant to shatter the moment which hangs in the air between them and the musicians with something as profane as applause. So it was at the concert of music by Sir John Tavener at the Manchester International Festival which contained no fewer than three world premieres by the great man as he approaches his 70th birthday.

Album review: Christian Wallumrod Ensemble, Outstairs (ECM)

Somewhere in the intersecting corridors of jazz, modernist composition, Scando-folk and early church music, there’s a small interior chamber that’s not quite silent, and this is what you’ll find there.

Album review: Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld, Still Smiling (Specula)

Blixa Bargeld's collaboration with Italian composer Teho Teardo finds him in fine fettle on a group of typically sardonic songs set to unusual string and electronic arrangements performed with The Balanescu Quartet.

Maurice Gendron, who died in 1990

Famous cellist was abusive monster, says former pupil

Maurice Gendron, who taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School, was allegedly a sadist who abused his young students

Carla Bruni, Little French Songs (Decca)

Album review: Carla Bruni, Little French Songs (Decca)

“When life goes wrong,” advises Carla Bruni, “try for a little French song” – commending their ability to transport one to Paris. With simple guitar accompaniment akin to ukelele, it's warmly welcoming, and entirely indicative of the mood of Little French Songs as a whole.

Victor Kissine, Between Two Waves (ECM New Series)

Album review: Victor Kissine, Between Two Waves (ECM New Series)

The Russian composer Victor Kissine's work has been accurately described as possessing a “reticent musical language”, a characteristic skilfully demonstrated by Gidon Kremer's Kremerata Baltica on this album of three chamber-music premieres.

Album: Messaien/Saariaho, The Edge of Light - Gloria Cheng/Calder Quartet (Harmonia Mundi)

A third composer hovers, ghost-like, in pianist Cheng's beguiling recital with the Calder Quartet.

Album review: Alisa Weilerstein, Daniel Barenboim, Elgar, Carter: Cello Concertos (Decca)

Virtuosi seem to know what they must do from an early age: in Alisa Weilerstein's case, her first “cello” was made from a cereal box and a toothbrush, when she was just two. Since then, she's played with conductors such as Mehta, Dudamel and, here, Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin.

Album review: A Fine Frenzy, Pines (Virgin)

A Fine Frenzy is the nom-de-disque of Californian singer-songwriter Alison Sudol, whose gently keening vocals invoke a strain of Pacific coastal wyrdness.

Album review: Philip Higham, Britten: Suites for Solo (Cello Delphian)

In homage to Bach, Benjamin Britten originally planned to write six cello suites for his friend Rostropovich, but was able to complete only three before his death in 1976.

Collaborator: Harvey, centre, with the conductors Ilan Volkov, left, and Stefan Solyom

Professor Jonathan Harvey: Composer whose work spanned electronic and church music

He was a gifted cellist, and his work remained rooted in the practicalities of performance

Album: Snow Palms, Intervals (Village Green)

Better known as one-third of post-rockers State River Widening, David Sheppard here collaborates with producer Chris Leary as Snow Palms, a percussion-based unit whose creations owe much to the mallet music of Steve Reich, Moondog and Indonesian gamelan orchestras.

Album: Antonio Pappano, Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 'From The New World'; Cello Concerto (EMI Classics)

Partnered here with the following year's "Cello Concerto" , Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 has a broad-brush scope and panache that lends itself perfectly to the detailed, focused approach of Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Their interpretation raises new questions: Dvorák may have claimed negro and Native American influences on the work, but reflecting the tendentious ascription of "New World", here it's more the pioneer spirit that infuses the symphony, with its widescreen strings anticipating a century of Western movie vistas, and its can-do bustle suggestive more of colonising settlers than natives. And isn't that the cavalry summoned by those horns?

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