Arts and Entertainment

Avi Avital "Between Worlds" (Deutsche Grammophon)

Ma/Brewer/Spence/Paterson/BBCSO/Robertson, Royal Albert Hall

Graham Fitkin is one of our most versatile composers, and since he’s been commissioned to celebrate the Olympics, the Cello Concerto he has written to showcase the talents of Yo-Yo Ma - plus the (dubious) acoustic possibilities of the Royal Albert Hall – is of more than passing interest.

Album: John Law, Mark Pringle, This Is (33Jazz)

This duet for two pianos by the reliably excellent Law and Pringle, his stupendously talented young pupil, is so full of joy that it can renew your faith not just in jazz, but music itself.

Album: Bach, 5 Klavier Konzerte – Bahrami / Chailly / Gewandhausorchester (Decca)

Whichever keyboard Bach had in mind for the five concertos here, it wasn't a grand piano.

Album: Heinz Holliger, JS Bach: Konzerte und Sinfonien Für Oboe (ECM New Series)

J S Bach used the oboe to originally voice many of the most famous instrumental passages in his cantatas and orchestral works, but these origins were all too often obscured by his later revisions of these pieces for other instruments – a process reversed here by Heinz Holliger in a pair of exquisite oboe Sinfonia culled from a cantata and the Easter Oratorio, both reconstituted for a small string ensemble and harpsichord supporting the oboe.

Album: Julian Bream, The Art of Julian Bream (Él)

As well as being the pre-eminent classical Spanish guitarist of his generation, Julian Bream did more than anybody to emancipate the instrument beyond its purely national musical associations.

Wrong pieces played in concert halls, says Proms new young star

Benjamin Grosvenor, a one-time child prodigy pianist who is set to be the youngest soloist to perform at the First Night of the Proms, has launched a stunning attack on his musical elders for promoting "shameful and uninteresting" repertoires at concert halls across the country.

Album: Poulenc, Concerto pour Deux Pianos et Orchestre – Nima Eterna Brugge (Zig Zag)

Jos van Immerseel's period-instruments orchestra continues its survey of French music with this toothsome programme.

Staatskapelle Berlin/Barenboim/Boulez, Royal Festival Hall

Liszt and Wagner, Boulez and Barenboim – iconic names, analogous kinships.

Pianist Lang Lang hits out at 'Bang Bang' critics

Lang Lang, the one-time child prodigy pianist who is now considered one of the hottest properties in worldwide classical music, has hit back at critics who consider his performances to be flashy, empty affairs which detract from the seriousness of his art.

The classical star landing a blow for brass

Thanks to the glamorous Alison Balsom, trumpet playing is shedding its stereotype as a fusty male domain

Album: Sigyn Birkeland, Frost: Parapraxis, Bassoon Concerto; Karlsen: Serenata (Signum Classics)

Sigyn Birkeland has put together an intriguing programme of modern bassoon pieces.

Album: Gido Kremer, Beethoven: Violin Concerto (Newton Classics)

When Gidon Kremer's interpretation of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, recorded with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Neville Marriner, was originally issued in the early 1980s, the cadenzas written for him by his friend Alfred Schnittke caused a sensation – and rightly so, more than justifying Schnittke's subsidiary sleeve credit. Even decades later, their flinty, abrasive manner causes a considerable shock towards the end of the first movement Allegro, a collision of styles and eras that takes in subsequent developments by Berg, Bartok and Shostakovich, as well as Beethoven himself.

OAE/Pizarro/Goodman, Queen Elizabeth Hall

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment prides itself on its ability to recreate the musical past, but the concert at which Beethoven premiered his fourth piano concerto was stranger than anything that could be recreated today.

Album: Schonberg Ensemble, Reinbert de Leeuw, Górecki: Kleines Requiem für eine Polka; Lerchenmusik (Newton Classics)

This is a rather Messiaen-ic study in contrasts: the opening five minutes is almost supernaturally calm and quiet, suddenly shattered by a shrill burst of violins and chimes that disappears as enigmatically as it appeared, shifting between extremes of amplitude; in the second movement, a brash tumult of horns gives way to solitary clarinet, underpinned by doomy piano monochord, while the finale is almost completely stationary and barely audible, a still string pad with wanly tolling chimes.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Jarvi, Barbican Hall

The Scandinavians were coming: Nielsen and Grieg had tall tales to tell and Sibelius’s Violin Concerto had promised the über-virtuosic Julia Fischer.

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