Arts and Entertainment

Kings Place, London

Album: Inon Barnatan, Darknesse (Visible Avie)

On Darknesse Visible, the Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan offers a compelling programme of pieces inspired by poems, their interpretations occupying the netherworld between light and dark.

Tokyo Quartet, Wigmore Hall ****/*****

Two groups of Japanese musicians have opened their Western counterparts’ eyes to new things about Western classical music: one is Masaaki Suzuki with his Bach Collegium Japan, the other is the Tokyo String Quartet, whose recordings of the classical canon are surpassingly fine. And when you’re told before the first of the Tokyo’s two Wigmore concerts that two players are about to retire, you listen intently, because a 42-year run is coming to a close.

Leif Ove Andsnes, Queen Elizabeth Hall

As the leading pianist of his native Norway, Leif Ove Andsnes has traded very effectively on his easy manner and camera-friendly looks, and the Queen Elizabeth hall was predictably packed.

Album: The Knights, A Second of Silence (Ancalagon)

The starting point for this intriguing programme from young US ensemble The Knights is Morton Feldman's suggestion that part of the magic of Schubert is "that kind of hovering, as if you're in a register you've never heard".

Beyond Ballets Russes, Coliseum, London

You can teach an old bird new tricks – but they might not be as good as the old ones

Natalie Dessay/Philippe Cassard, Wigmore Hall, London

It is extraordinary to find Natalie Dessay, darling of the operatic stage since 1992, giving her Wigmore Hall debut now. Her horror of solo recitals and dislike of being alone on stage is a matter of record.

Album: Rafal Blechacz, Debussy Szymanowski (Deutsche Grammophon)

The gifted young Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz – described by John O'Conor as "one of the greatest artists I have had a chance to hear in my entire life" – demonstrates the range of his powers here, pairing impressionistic pieces by Debussy with more expressionistic works by Blechacz's compatriot Karol Szymanowski.

How Debussy keys into Japan

In 1862 Claude Debussy was born in Paris: the biggest musical celebrations of 2012 will mark his 150th anniversary. Reflections on Debussy, a major new festival based at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, promises to be one of the most unusual takes on this seminal French composer and his legacy. It unites past and present, Europe and Asia, and a pianist and orchestra who, having been caught up in Japan's devastating earthquake, are lucky to be here.

Bavouzet/Ashkenazy/Philharmonia, Royal Festival Hall (5/5)

The French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet may be in his mid-forties, but he’s going for the slow burn on this side of the Channel: he’s probably better known to audiences in Beijing (where his Beethoven has caused a sensation) and in the Lofoten islands of Norway (where he runs a piano festival) than he is to audiences in Britain.

Album: Myung-Whun Chung Seoul Philharmonic, Debussy: La Mer; Ravel: Ma Mère L'Oye, La Valse (Deutsche Grammophon)

This programme of "symphonic sketches" by French Romantics offers a broad platform for the Seoul Philharmonic to demonstrate their impressive grasp of tone and texture.

Chamber Prom 3, Prom 23, Rousset/Talens Lyriques/Hough/Noseda/BBC Philharmonic (4/5, 5/5)

Christophe Rousset regards his harpsichord as a time-machine, and his travels have yielded impressive fruit: he’s brought to light scores of works by French and Italian Baroque composers which had been overshadowed by Handel and Vivaldi.

Agnes Obel, Bush Hall, London

Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel has the appearance of someone born into the wrong time, an impression not the least dispelled by her music.

Pelleas et Melisande, Barbican

Strip away the colour from Debussy’s great music-drama, and the plot you are left with has a bourgeois banality: a marital deception, culminating in the cuckold slaying his rival, and his wife dying of shock in childbirth.

Marc-Andre Hamelin, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Riding with a relaxed smile over the toughest technical challenges Liszt and Godowsky could throw at a pianist, Marc-Andre Hamelin is famed as the man for whom everything is easy, and the crowd here knew exactly what they wanted.

London Sinfonietta/Ades, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Sometimes a concert can leave your head ringing with sounds, and as I write mine is still reverberating to the hocketing duet between trumpet and trombone in one of the pieces from Gerald Barry’s new work ‘Feldman’s Sixpenny Editions’.

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