Arts and Entertainment

Wigmore Hall, London

Album: Hélène Grimaud & Sol Gabetta, Duo (Deutsche Grammophon)

Cellist Sol Gabetta's playing, according to pianist Hélène Grimaud, is characterised by the “light and warmth and vitality” indicated by her first name, qualities not often associated with the instrument.

Singing sentences: Villa La Foce in Tuscany, Italy

Boyd Tonkin: Music can make words bloom again – and not just poetry, but prose

Music and literature have blended in harmony ever since (in Kipling's words) "'Omer smote 'is blooming lyre" in Bronze Age Greece, where both lyric and epic verse was sung. Yet we take this fruitful kinship, or twinship, too much for granted. Specialists study the relationships between word, sound and meaning in song-cycles, opera or pop lyrics (sometimes, as in Christopher Ricks's readings of Bob Dylan, with dazzling virtuosity). But opportunities to hear every chord in the music-literature dialogue remain scarce. Hence the value of the Notes & Letters festival, which runs for a second year this weekend. Its participants range from one novelist who is also a ground-breaking musician (Amit Chaudhuri plays a gig with his eclectic east-west band) to another with a sideline as a performer (Andrey Kurkov takes the floor with a Russian-Ukrainian cabaret), and other authors - such as Ali Smith and Janice Galloway – inspired by music and musicians.

Album: Handel, Song for St Cecilia's Day – Ludus Baroque/Neville-Towle (Delphian)

Ludus Baroque's second recording under Richard Neville-Towle pairs the grand Song for St Cecilia's Day with the more intimate Cecilian cantata Look Down, Harmonious Saint, using the Concerto Grosso in B flat as a bridge.

Album: Ludus Baroque, Handel: Song for St. Cecilia's Day (Delphian)

Following up their debut recording of Alexander's Feast, the Scottish period ensemble Ludus Baroque present another Handel piece, the composer's setting of Dryden's celebration of the patron saint of musicians, "A Song for St Cecilia's Day".

Charlotte Bray, Composer, 30

Observations One to Watch: Charlotte Bray, Composer, 30

"It was beyond my wildest dreams to have my work performed at the Proms last week – I only started composing music nine year's ago. It was very emotional."

Album: Mozart: Apollo et Hyacinthus - Classical Opera/Ian Page (Linn)

This scintillating recording of the 1767 Latin opera reveals just how early Mozart's instinct for character was formed.

Album: Thierry Pécou, Tremendum (Harmonia Mundi)

As in his Symphonie Du Jaguar, French-Caribbean composer Thierry Pécou draws on both the musical stylings and the myths of South American culture in these works, his percussion interplay driving along pieces like "Paseo de la Reforma" and "L'Arbre aux Fleurs" with an insistence that recalls not just Reich and Glass, but also the batucada percussion ensembles of Brazilian carnivals.

Leopold Trio/Steven Osborne/Pavel Haas Quartet, Wigmore hall, London

Classical music’s talent-spotting schemes don’t always work - as witness the fortysomethings desperately trying to recreate their brief fame as 'BBC young musician of the year' - but Radio 3's New Generation Artist scheme is an exception. Successive concerts by two NGA ensembles this week reinforced the point that this title is a copper-bottomed accolade.

Babur in London, The Haymarket, Basingstoke

"I think opera needs to be part of the cultural landscape... If we only make opera about Martians who live on the moon, then it's deeply unsatisfactory." So believes John Fulljames directing Babur in London, his last production for The Opera Group before joining the Royal Opera House. The uncompromising slice of reality premiered at Basingstoke pending a countrywide tour before hitting India concerns four homegrown terrorists Mo, Faiz, Nafisa and Saira on the eve of their suicide mission. Strangely, considering the project's extensive consultations with Islamic scholars to avoid offence, celluloid has been there ahead of them with Chris Morris's 2010 achingly funny and touching Four Lions, about four incompetent British jihadists. 

Album: Gabriel Prokofiev & Peter Gregson, Cello Multitracks (Non Classical)

Cello Multitracks is Gabriel Prokofiev's four-part suite for nine cellos, here performed by the gifted cellist Peter Gregson, whose familiarity with laptop multi-track technology undoubtedly aids its realisation.

Men support each other in the largely dull Underman

Underman, The Roundhouse, London

The tears of a clown bring the audience down

Album: Sea of Bees, Orangefarben (Heavenly)

This follow-up to last year's Songs forthe Ravens finds singer-songwriter Julie Baenziger, aka Sea Of Bees, drawing strength from sadness.

Muhly/De Ridder/Britten Sinfonia, Barbican, London

Nico Muhly’s first work for English National Opera was an iffy affair, but he talks a blue streak, and since his collaborators include Bjork, Philip Glass, and sundry indie-rock outfits, nobody could accuse him of not putting himself about. He’s now the go-to classical composer for anyone wanting to associate themselves with cutting-edge New York cool.

Without Warning The Old Vic Tunnels London 

Without Warning has a brilliant location, but takes a while to make the most of it.

Park Lane Group, Purcell Room, London
National Youth Orchestra, Barbican Hall, London

Emerging musicians get a welcome platform, but please change the record

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