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.
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
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Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
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Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
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How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
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Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
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Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
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The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
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Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

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Jokes on Hollywood

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