Arts and Entertainment

Kings Place, London

The compact collection

Rob Cowan on the best Christmas CDs

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish Academy, Glasgow

Soaring, song-like lines

Prom 29: English Chamber Orchestra/Ralf Gothoni, Royal Albert Hall, London

Faultless planning in a sea of chaos

Proms Chamber Music 2: Alexandre Tharaud, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Precise, philosophical piano-playing

CALSSICAL: NEW RELEASES

Strauss: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Munich Chamber Orchestra, Ustinov, Rickenbacher (Koch Schwann)

Letter: What is science for?

Sir: Philip Hensher is surprised that there have been no great female composers because "to sit at home and write a piano trio" is as feasible for a woman as writing a novel ("Preserving the unique sound of men behaving badly", 16 September).

Classical: The Compact Collection: ROB COWAN ON THE WEEK'S CD RELEASES

IT'S ALL too easy to think of Debussy's operatic masterpiece Pelleas et Melisande as a huge tone poem with voices. Indeed, listening to Herbert von Karajan's 1978 Berlin recording makes it almost impossible to experience the work in any other way. Karajan charts the music's ebb and flow much as he does for Debussy's symphonic sketches La Mer, attending with particular care to the dramatic inter-linking orchestral interludes. Wagner's Tristan and Parsifal are in constant attendance, and the singers fit the grid like additional instruments. Richard Stilwell is an impassioned Pelleas and Jose van Dam a commanding though deeply troubled Golaud. Best, aside from Karajan himself, is Frederica von Stade, a more knowing Melisande than most, though unapproachably tender in her death scene.

Podium: Tim Cordell - Wagner's Ring is more than music

From a series of lectures by the Professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania in America

Arts: The agony and the ecstasy

Proms: PROMS 13 & 14 ROYAL ALBERT HALL/ RADIO 3 LONDON

The Knack: How to Conduct an Orchestra by Jan Latham-Koenig

CONDUCTING IS the loneliest profession in the world. Although you are working with 100 people, you create a barrier which needs to be maintained at all times if you are not to compromise your authority.

Arts: Sound and vision

The ECM label and its founder Manfred Eicher have altered musical history. After 30 years, their albums still range over jazz and classical music, the eclectic and unclassifiable - and have a sound world as distinctive as the record sleeves' famous austere design. By Phil Johnson

First violin to the nation

I WENT TO the Yehudi Menuhin School when I was eight. Nigel Kennedy was the top boy in the school. He was 16 and used to tweak my hair and give me affectionate nicknames.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project