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
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A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried