Arts and Entertainment

Last autumn Helene Grimaud released a fine recording of Brahms’ piano concertos under the baton of Andris Nelsons: to hear them perform the second concerto live with the Philharmonia Orchestra was to realise anew what a superb symbiosis they can achieve.

’Tis the season for merry music – but is there too much of it?

Is there too much music surrounding us? In particular, I’m thinking of the seasonal offerings of Wise Men and Angels and Santa’s sleigh bells which constantly cloud the winter air on our high streets. As a musician, I’m supposed to love music, aren’t I? Can there really be too much of such a good thing?

Album review: Brahms/John Axelrod, Brahms Beloved Telarc

Unfulfilled passion for Clara Schumann underpinned Brahms’s four symphonies, believes conductor and also, here, piano accompanist Axelrod.

Album review: Brahms/Schumann, Strings Attached – Arno Piters/Royal Concertgebouw (Challenge)

Composer Geert van Keulen reshapes Brahms’s Clarinet Sonatas in F minor and E flat major after the model of his Clarinet Quintet in this alluring disc of arrangements.

Michael Haas tells the tragic tale of a lost musical generation

In his new book, Forbidden Music: the Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis, Michael Haas, formerly music curator for the Jewish Museum in Vienna and an award-winning record producer, has set out to tell the full, devastating story of a lost generation.

Details of arrangements for Margaret Thatcher funeral released

A single, half-muffled bell will toll as the funeral cortege draws up to St Paul's.

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Bronfman / Tilson Thomas / Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Festival Hall, London

The Vienna Philharmonic’s contribution to the Rest Is Noise festival would have been significant whatever they played, but when their conductor Michael Tilson Thomas mounted the podium, it was to apologise for the fact that they would be making very little noise at all.

Classical pianist Janina Fialkowska

Classical pianist with a paralysed arm wins BBC Music Magazine Award

Just over a decade ago, acclaimed classical pianist Janina Fialkowska discovered a tumour that would leave her left arm paralysed.

Pianist Kirill Gerstein p

Kirill Gerstein, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

One lesson to be drawn from Keith Jarrett’s recent Southbank recital was how porous the border now is between jazz piano and its classical counterpart.

IoS classical preview of 2012: Plan ahead to catch composers' anniversaries, rarities and evergreens

As the Southbank Centre braces itself for a year of Noise (see feature, page 58), and opera-lovers contemplate a feast of Britten, Verdi and Wagner, lutenist Paul O'Dette explores the melancholy and wit of 450-year-old John Dowland on Thursday at London's Wigmore Hall. Kasper Holten directs Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House from 4 February, Welsh National Opera enters a new era as Lulu opens at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on 8 February, and Scottish Opera pays a belated centenary tribute to Massenet with Pia Furtado's production of Werther at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, from 15 February.

The best music of 2012: Classical

From the slow heartbeat of Richard Tunnicliffe's Bach Cello Suites, to the quicksilver figures of Carole Cerasi's Scarlatti Sonatas, this was a great year for imagination and invention.

Denis Matsuev, Kavakos, LSO, Valery Gergiev, Barbican, London

Unveiling plans for his new Mariinsky theatre, vociferously backing Putin over Pussy Riot, and popping up as an improbable Father Christmas on Radio 3, Valery Gergiev has been hard to ignore this week. But his current exploration with the London Symphony Orchestra continues.

War story: Toby Spence and Valery Gergiev rehearse Szymanowski

Review: Barry Douglas (***) and Alissa Firsova (****), Wigmore Hall, London

Brahms wrote all his large-scale piano works at the start of his career, and restricted himself to short pieces thereafter.

Leonidas Kavakos, London Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vanska, Barbican, London

Perennially racked with terrors which he drowned in alcohol, Sibelius’s first ambition was to be a violinist, but nerves got the better of him.

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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee