Arts and Entertainment

Wigmore Hall, London

Philip Glass: 'I think I'm built for this kind of life. I train like an athlete'

The world's most austere composer drove taxis until he was 42. He reveals how his fastidious life informs his music

Album: Jean-Guihen Queyras, Mantovani, Schoeller, Amy: Cello Concertos (Harmonia Mundi)

The reputation of cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras is now such that he is able to present three concertos written for him by three diverse modern composers, here performed with different orchestras.

Bach Weekend 2009, Purcell Room, London<br>Beyond the Wall: New Music from China, Barbican, London

The elegant economy of J S Bach makes a Chinese spectacular sound flashy and hollow

A Short Gentleman, By Jon Canter

Robert Purcell, a very distinguished barrister and a fully paid up member of the British establishment, has somehow ended up in prison – and he needs to understand why. Prompted by his wife to pen a confession, he applies his legalistic mind to appraising all the forces that have brought him down.

Album: Walton, Cello Concerto &ndash; Wispelway / Tate, (Onyx)

Pieter Wispelway's recital is a thing of wild beauty. Here is William Walton at his least superficial, in the bold planes of his 1956 Cello Concerto and the bitter "Passacaglia".

Album: Arne Deforce, Yutaka Oya, Morton Feldman: Patterns in a Chromatic Field (Aeon)

The cello and piano piece Patterns in a Chromatic Field dates from the early 1980s, when Feldman's fascination with subtly asymmetric patternings was yielding to the obsession with stasis that would lead to monumental epics.

Exposed: the myth of cello scrotum

Peer who fooled the medical world with a letter to the British Medical Journal in 1974 finally comes clean

Members of the London Philharmonic / Elder, Wigmore Hall, London

Wigmore Hall's tiny platform was almost as crowded as Richard Wagner's staircase on Christmas morning 1870 when he presented his beloved wife Cosima with a performance of his newly composed Siegfried Idyll.

Yo-Yo Ma/Kathryn Stott, Barbican Hall, London

They sit closer than do most duo recitalists, reflecting the now intimate nature of their musical partnership. Indeed there was one note of Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata in A minor when a pizzicato in the cello and a staccato quaver in the right hand of the piano chimed in such a way as to belie the fact that there was absolutely no eye contact. Pure musical telepathy.

Yo-Yo Ma/ Kathryn Stott, Barbican Hall, London

They sit closer than do most duo recitalists on the concert platform reflecting the now intimate nature of their musical partnership.



Isserlis/Ad&egrave;s, Wigmore Hall, London

Even in a hall as famed for its intimacy as the Wigmore, I doubt we've ever heard quieter or more meaningful sounds than Steven Isserlis breathed into his cello during the last of four Gyorgy Kurtag pieces, Kroo Gyorgy in memoriam. Descending scales so ghostly that it hardly seemed possible that the strings were even so much as grazed by the bow became like silent footsteps to eternity. How typical of Kurtag to honour a great Hungarian musicologist with near-silence – the most elusive music of all – and how clever of Isserlis to have placed these pieces at the heart, the still centre, of this generous recital.

Steven Isserlis/ Thomas Ades, Wigmore Hall, London

Even in a hall as famed for its intimacy as Wigmore, I doubt we've ever heard quieter or more meaningful sounds than Steven Isserlis breathed into his cello during the last of four Gyorgy Kurtag pieces, "Kroo Gyorgy in memorium".

Album: Isobel Campbell &amp; Mark Lanegan, Keep Me in Mind Sweetheart (V2)

Given the variety of intriguing approaches, from shanties to waltzes and rumbas to torch-songs, employed on this year's Sunday at Devil Dirt, the second album-length collaboration between Belle & Sebastian's Isobel Campbell and former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan, "Keep Me in Mind Sweetheart" is not the first track one would expect to lead off a six-track EP of outtakes.

Antony and the Johnsons, Barbican, London

There's a fantastic image on the front cover of Antony and the Johnson's new EP of the great Japanese butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno. His face is caked in thick white stage paint; his fingers snap out of shape, almost audibly, and his eyes fix themselves on some chimerical vision just out of shot. As a caught moment of butoh's dance of darkness, it's an arresting image; as a frontispiece to Another World, five songs of crippled beauty and uneasy, otherworldly landscapes, it's a masterstroke.

Robert Fisk: Thank you, readers, for these gems

Why, I find myself asking when I read them, can't we journalists write like this?
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