Arts and Entertainment

Kings Place, London

Sweet lullaby of death

CLASSICAL ECO / Harry Christophers Barbican Centre, London

LANGGAARD Music of the Spheres

Four Tone Pictures Gitta-Maria Sjoberg (soprano) Danish National Radio SO / Gennady Rozhdestvensky Chandos CHAN 9517

MUSIC : The great and the Goode

Great, as opposed to merely good, musicians are the ones who manage to sound like nobody but themselves, and last weekend I heard two of these rare birds on successive nights: both of them Beethoven pianists of the first rank, but with almost nothing in common beyond the repertory they play. In other words, true, distinctive individuals. One was Maurizio Pollini, cool, elegant and unflustered at the Festival Hall; the other was Richard Goode, sweaty, turbulent, with the interpretative equivalent of his sleeves rolled up in Paris. It's tempting to contrast them as aristocrat and artisan, but more accurately the difference is to do with the way they read Beethoven in history (as fulfilment of the Classical past or architect of the Romantic future) and the extent to which their playing either takes the music as a "finished" work of art or tries to re-enact the struggle of creation.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

If you can say something well, why sing it? It is a question that could be levelled at several composers, notably Benjamin Britten in the War Requiem, a work that contains much sublime music and a great deal of dreary note-mongering as good poetry is turned into musical prose.

Gavin Bryars Premiere: St John's Smith Square

Classical Music

Festival Simon Bainbridge / Kurtg Pump Room, Cheltenham

One might imagine that Simon Bainbridge would have exhausted his Primo Levi vein in the overwhelmingly intense settings he made with orchestral accompaniment last year (the BBC commission, Ad ora incerta). But something was evidently left unsaid. And this has now borne fruit in a new cycle of Four Primo Levi Settings, written for the Cheltenham Festival and premiered there very impressively by Susan Bickley with the Nash Ensemble in the Pittville Pump Room last weekend.

Classical Isserlis and Friends City of London Festival

If anyone ever doubted that great chamber music lives and breathes through the company it keeps, then "Steven Isserlis and Friends" will have set them right: in this company, the only discord is born of concord.

Letter: Musical memory from 1832

Musical memory

Serendipity knocks

radio 3 round-up

Classical Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

'From the moment he ran out on stage, Stoltzman's presence was utterly mesmerising'

Music; Wihan String Quartet Wigmore Hall, London

The weather is usually irrelevant to musical appreciation. Yet, when the thermometer plunges below freezing, merely turning up at the Wigmore Hall provokes an inner flush of self-esteem. Bravely performing on the Thursday after Christmas, the Wihan Quartet drew a full audience whose applause was partially (and forgivably) for its own fortitude. Yet there was also genuine praise for much fine playing, rewarded by a pair of encores from Dvorak and Haydn - the finales of the "American" and "Lark" quartets - to return the connoisseurs to the cold with a tonic of robust good humour.

MUSIC: Barry Douglas Series, Wigmore Hall, London

The Belfast-born pianist proves that he's as much at home in chamber music as in those big concertos. By Anthony Payne

THE CRITICS : A Teutonic Jekyll and Hyde


THE CRITICS : Fidelio with fireworks

CLASSICAL MUSIC; FIDELIO: Bregenz Festival, CARMINA QUARTET: Kyburg Festival, 100th ANNIVERSARY PROM: Royal Albert Hall

Keep time, gentlemen, please Beating time at the bar

Chamber music began at home and never really belonged in the concert hall anyway. So who says quartets and pints can't mix?
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