Arts and Entertainment

Wigmore Hall, London

Album: Louth Contemporary Music Society, Path (LCMS)

World premieres by Arvo Pärt and John Tavener are the main attractions of this anthology, though supporting material by Uzbek, Serbian and Georgian composers is equally engaging, particularly the two movements of Yanovsky's "Chang Music IV", which blend cello glissandi with koto-style pizzicato.

Album: Agnes Obel, Philharmonics ([PIAS])

The strikingly austere tone of the cover photo of Berlin-based Danish composer Agnes Obel is borne out in the contents of Philharmonics, in which limpidly evocative piano instrumentals in the vein of Ludovico Einaudi, some tinted with cello, organ, harp or celesta, blend seamlessly with Obel's delicately dusky harmonies, floating like feathers in songs such as the haunting "Riverside" and "Beast".

Mike Edwards: Cellist with the original line-up of the Electric Light Orchestra

Considered a guilty pleasure or derided for their obvious Beatles influences, the Electric Light Orchestra were one of the biggest bands of the Seventies and early Eighties, with worldwide sales of over 50 million albums.

Album: Steven Isserlis, reVisions (BIS)

Isserlis's collection flirts madly with profundity and schmaltz.

Album: Alexis Descharmes, Klaus Huber: Complete Cello Works (Aeon)

Few composers have investigated the cello's range and capabilities quite as exhaustively as Klaus Huber, but the standout track here, "Ein Hauch von Unzeit" was not originally written for the instrument: Descharmes' mournful solo cello gradually acquires life as three further cellos join in, their lines weaving together with a timbral variety which in places recalls the piece's origins as a work for flute.

My Fantasy Band - Bianca Casady, CocoRosie

'Michael Jackson's sense of rhythm was amazing'

Album: Britten, Cello Symphony – Wispelwey / Kim / FSO (Onyx)

Written for Rostropovich, Britten's Cello Symphony is a concerto in all but name.

Album: Trio Dolce Vita, Amarcord (Jazzwerkstatt)

The woody – even Acker Bilk-ish – sound of a clarinet tootling Nino Rota's title-theme from Fellini's Amarcord against the clip-clop rhythm of double bass and plucked cello must be one of the most nostalgic musical experiences imaginable.

Album: Bach, Mass in B Minor – Dunedin Consort (Linn Records)

The Dunedin Consort's premiere recording of Joshua Rifkin's scholarly edition of Bach's B-minor Mass has many attractive features: the emphatic "k" that launches the first Kyrie (the orchestra sounding on the vowel), closely dovetailed count-erpoint, gorgeous playing from David Watkin (cello), Katy Bircher (flute) and Patrick Beaugirard (oboe), and a calm but purposeful sense of narrative.

Album: John Metcalfe, Matthew Barley, Constant Filter (Signum Classics)

Most recently to be found helping Peter Gabriel transform the cover versions on Scratch My Back, John Metcalfe here furnishes cellist Matthew Barley with a series of pieces mostly composed for solo cello and electronics.

Album: Howard Goodall The Seasons (EMI Classics)

While not wishing to criticise any modern composer savvy enough to secure a commission, there are obvious potential problems when the piper playing the tune is an ITV series fronted by Alan Titchmarsh, as with The Seasons.

Album: Isang Yun, Concertino; Duo; Intermezzo; Pezzo Fantasioso (Wergo)

The concertina rarely features in classical music outside the work of Astor Piazzolla or Pauline Oliveiros, and its use alongside strings in these four pieces is indicative of the Korean composer Isang Yun's fondness for unusual instrumental combinations. The Taoist principles behind his work are perhaps most evident in the rising figures representing the shift from darkness to light in Duo, or the contrast between the high, bird-like violins and the vibrant chord-clusters of Stefan Hussong's accordion in Concertino. Originally scored for cello and piano, Intermezzo is less diverse, with the cello's bowed lowing occupying similar space to the accompanying accordion drone.

Musashi, Barbican Theatre, London

Yukio Ninagawa’s productions are often hauntingly numinous, but what he's done with Hisashi Inoue’s play ‘Musashi’ transports us to a realm where life and death are literally one and the same.

Album: The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You (American Recordings)

The man can even make Gogol Bordello sound great.

Album: Mendelssohn, Piano Trios Opus 49 and 66 (Avie)

No disrespect to Emanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma but the Benvenue Fortepiano Trio's Mendelssohn has more vitality than the Sony supergroup's burnished account.

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