Arts and Entertainment

Avi Avital "Between Worlds" (Deutsche Grammophon)

Proms 69/70: Lewis/RSNO/Deneve; Ensemble Matheus/Spinosi, Royal Albert Hall (3/5, 5/5)

Playing all Beethoven’s piano concertos at the Proms with a variety of conductors and orchestras was always going to be a trial of nerve for Paul Lewis, and he’s come through – if not covered in glory – at least with colours flying.

Album: Pergolesi, Musica Sacra / Concerto Italiano (Naïve Classiques)

Naïve marks Pergolesi's anniversary with this boxed set from Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano and Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante.

Proms Bach Day, Cadogan Hall/Royal Albert Hall, London

If the Proms ‘Bach Day’ looked odd on paper, it was even odder in reality, but its centre of gravity was an unusually illuminating performance of the complete Brandenburg Concertos by the English Baroque Soloists directed by John Eliot Gardiner. Modestly presenting himself as primus inter pares, Gardiner sat out some of the concertos and simply allowed his fine-tuned band to do their thing, but the commentary with which he punctuated their performances was spot on.

Prom 27: Halle Orchestra / Elder, Royal Albert Hall, London

It was the second outing for a John Foulds piece in one week. But then it does tend to pour rather than rain at the Proms and this was the Halle Orchestra where Foulds’ dad once played the bassoon. April - England implies showers (which are rather plentiful in Manchester) but it’s the sunniness that you go away humming.

Elgar's other, dotty, enigma

The British composer's Violin Concerto has a strange dedication, ending in five dots. A century after this romantic masterpiece's premiere, Jessica Duchen investigates the object of the epigraph

Album: Fabio di CÀsola, Mozart: Clarinet Concerto (Sony Classical)

Written late in his short life, the Clarinet Concerto in A major was Mozart's last purely instrumental piece, and one of his most beautiful, a work whose delicate melodic charm is matched by the rigorous restraint of the clarinet part, in which excessive ornamentation is eschewed in favour of a nimble, lyrical grace.

Prom 12: Zacharias/BBC Philharmonic/Sinaisky, Royal Albert Hall

Springing from the same burst of creativity which yielded Schumann’s majestic piano concerto, his ‘Overture, Scherzo, and Finale Op 52’ is a bird of a very different feather.

Prom 6: BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Belohlavek/ Lewis, Royal Albert Hall, London

The big occasion often brings out the best in the truly gifted and with so much riding on his much-anticipated Proms cycle of the Beethoven Piano Concertos – the first ever by a single artist – I can honestly say that I have never heard Paul Lewis play better.

Prom 5: WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne/ Bychkov, Royal Albert Hall

It was Semyon Bychkov’s last concert as principal conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, and reaching the summit of Strauss’ Alpine Symphony could and should have been a big deal – the Albert Hall is a natural environment for this musical blockbuster.

Paul Lewis to perform all five Beethoven piano concertos at the Proms

To play one Beethoven piano concerto at the Proms looks like good fortune (as Oscar Wilde could have said, had he known), but to perform all five is – well, another matter altogether, especially with four different orchestras and conductors. Such is the task facing Paul Lewis, 38, who's almost certainly the best-loved British pianist of his vintage.

Jessica Duchen: Prestigious commissions come with a health warning

It's in the nature of commissioning a new piece of music that nobody knows how it will turn out until it is too late, but a Proms premiere is an especially dangerous undertaking. It presents unique challenges; and, in rising to them, composers sometimes trip up. Working in the warmth of prestige, for performance by a top-quality orchestra in a huge hall, there's an understandable temptation towards over-ambition or impracticality. Works might turn out lengthier than desired, or demand unusual, hard-to-find instruments, or fall foul of the place's size and acoustics. And when disasters occur, they do so very publicly.

Album: Beethoven, Piano Concertos - Lewis / BBC SO (Harmonia Mundi)

Four orchestras feature in Paul Lewis's forthcoming Proms Cycle of Beethoven's Piano Concertos, but just one plays in this box set, with mixed results.

Album: Murray Perahia, Murray Perahia Plays Chopin (Sony Classical)

Though recently more involved with series of Bach and Beethoven piano works, it was with Chopin that Murray Perahia first made his name, winning the 1972 Leeds Competition with the E minor Concerto which opens this five-disc set.

Album: La Serenissma, Vivaldi: Gods, Emperors & Angels (Avie)

The title derives from Vivaldi's astonishing roster of patrons – "nine Highnesses", he proudly noted in a letter – for whom the various concerti featured here were written, and from the seemingly angelic virtuosity of his musicians at Venice's Ospedale della Pietà.

Prognosis is much better for Janina Fialkowska

In 2002 Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska noticed a swelling on her left arm. "As I was preparing for a tour involving some difficult Liszt pieces, I thought perhaps it was to do with overwork." The truth was different. It was an aggressive tumour, 12cm in diameter, which required immediate removal of a large section of arm muscle. The operation also severed a nerve.

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