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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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment