Arts and Entertainment

Kings Place, London

Classical: Orchestral manoeuvres

The showpiece of the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris was the newly built Eiffel Tower, but visitors who didn't like the controversial edifice might find other metal structures to entertain and instruct them. Claude Debussy, fresh from the Wagnerian pilgrimage to Bayrcuth, was bewitched by the Oriental pavilions, where he saw a Javanese gamelan orchestra. Recalling the experience later, he wrote that the players' "conservatoire is the sea's eternal rhythm, the wind among the leaves, the thousand sounds of nature which they understand without consulting an arbitrary treatise... Javanese music is based on a type of counterpoint, which makes Palestrina's seem child's play. If we listen without European prejudice to the charm of their percussion, we must admit that our percussion is like primitive noises at a country fair."

Music: A gigantic rabbit? Oh, please

SOMETIMES, productions try too hard: they don't interpret, they invade. And when a production of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte features someone in a rabbit costume with a 35ft penis, the invasion is most likely terminal - as it is in Scottish Opera's zoomorphic new Cosi at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.

Adams family values

Classical: New World Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas

Stop the dictators of modern music

There's discord in the world of music, and it's emitting from an unexpected source. The normally placid Julian Lloyd Webber tells Anna Tims that new musicians are destroying the classical tradition, and he is determined to restore harmony in every sense.

Classical & Opera: Czech out Martinu

Bohuslav Martinu may be a well-known composer, but his work is often neglected. This state of affairs will be rectified with a weekend of music by the Czech exile at the Barbican

Classical Review: Ligeti and a poem of ecstasy

Ligeti: Clocks and Clouds, Part II

Classical Review: Three by three

BBC SO / Andrew Davis

Classical Music on Radio 3

Jane Austen did not like going to concerts. In a letter she described professional musicians as "hirelings". Yet she practised the piano daily and made her own collection of music, transcribing all kinds of pieces, including orchestral, so that she could enjoy them in private. Spirit of the Age on Sunday afternoon broadcast a selection, and Michelene Wandor (adapter of Persuasion for radio) milked two music-loving experts on Austen for all there was to know about music in her life and work. Wandor's touch of severity contrasted with the unselfconscious flamboyance of Jonathan Keates, irrepressible man-about-music-and-literature, who talked about the role of music in the novels. There it plays a significant part, bringing characters together, though only one composer's name is ever mentioned, Johann Baptist Cramer, in Emma. By today's standards, Austen's musical horizons seem near-sighted - she was indifferent to the great names that became indispensable to posterity. Yet Keates insisted that both Emma and Pride and Prejudice would be impoverished by removing music which encapsulates in those novels the conflict between private feeling and social display.

radio in review

Xenakis must be one of the hardest composers to write about. He had no formal training as a composer, though Messiaen took him under his wing and told him to find his own way, not try to conform. Last Saturday afternoon, the Proms Feature, "Voices of the Stranger", made a pretty good job of picturing what Xenakis is about, weaving words and music continuously, informally, together so that they elucidated each other. At 75, Xenakis sounds resigned - he says he doesn't seek inspiration and doesn't even know if he ought to go on composing at all. His biographer, Nouritza Matossian, said his earliest works were inspired by Bartok, but he has always seemed to me one of the very few composers - Messiaen is another - who sprang upon the world fully armed. Which would certainly square with Xenakis's avowed intention to "get rid of what I am and behave as if I come from another planet".

Proms: Gubaidulina Viola Concerto, European premiere Royal Albert Hall, London / Radio 3

While certain spots on BBC Radio 3 - those mornings and those late afternoons - continue to be relentlessly dumbed down (and more is yet to come), at the Proms there's not a hint of dumbing or patronising: it's simply the greatest festival of the world's greatest music. And, unabashedly, it's spiced with some of the world's greatest new music. No need for simple-minded playlists - Debussy, Gubaidulina and Shostakovich with a regional orchestra will bring them in. Lots of them! Of course, the judicious admixture of a glamorous soloist, an important European premiere and a fizzy American conductor does send out strong signals. And, indeed, the Royal Albert Hall was packed on Tuesday night for Kent Nagano and the Halle Orchestra.

Orient express

KOREAN MUSIC FESTIVAL Gateway to the Orient South Bank Centre, London

CLASSICAL MUSIC Martin Roscoe and Peter Donohoe Wigmore Hall, London

"Oh Lor'! Have we got to listen to all this first?" complained a woman in the bar before Martin Roscoe and Peter Donohoe's two-piano recital on Friday. Perhaps that's what comes of advertising it as a celebration of American Independence Day.

CLASSICAL Martin Roscoe / Igor Zhukov Wigmore Hall, London

Martin Roscoe called his three recitals featuring the music of Szymanowski "Szymanowski, the Polish Impressionist". That was convenient, because he put Szymanowski with Debussy. But then he also played Chopin, whom nobody has yet called a proto-Impressionist. None of the Szymanowski works that Roscoe played in his final recital on Friday 13th suggested the Impressionist label. The two-movement Second Sonata of 1911 exemplifies a post-Romantic crisis of overblown gestures in decadent harmonies approaching atonality. Szymanowski survived the crisis, constructing a personal style without any loss of richness but a tremendous gain in clarity and subtlety, as shown by the Mazurkas, Op 50, written in the mid-1920s, which began Roscoe's programme. Not only did he play these as to the manner born, he also gave a forthright account of Chopin's Barcarolle, sensitive performances of Chopin's Op 59 Mazurkas and a well-shaped one of the epic fourth Ballade. The series has been a noble undertaking and Roscoe is not only an exceedingly reliable and consistent pianist, he is also irrepressible. But some of his most enjoyable playing has been of Debussy and, on this final night, he evoked all the sensuousness and orchestral depth you could expect in four from the second book of Preludes.

PIANO RECITALS: Martin Roscoe Wigmore Hall, London Piotr Anderszewski Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

People can sing Szymanowski's heart-throbbing Etude in B flat minor without knowing another note of his music. It made a well-earned encore at the end of Martin Roscoe's Wigmore Hall recital last Thursday, after the rarefied atmosphere of the Polish composer's Masques. Stokowski arranged the Etude for orchestra, but the fabulous inventiveness and kaleidoscopic colours of Masques would offer a far more interesting challenge to someone with a flair for orchestral wizardry. The three pieces might be called the connoisseur's alternative to Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit or Miroirs. They are not merely hedonistic, but elevate eroticism into something sharply objective and sophisticated.
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