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.

Album: Murray Perahia, Brahms: Handel Variations, Rhapsodies, Piano Pieces (Sony Classical)

His latest release finds this premier pianist returning to Brahms for the first time in 20 years – not that great a distance from his long-standing fascination with Bach, as Brahms' "Handel Variations" effects an ingenious bridge between the Baroque and Romantic eras and there are clear formal echoes of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" in its employment of paired groupings.

Stephen Kovacevich 70th Birthday Concert, Wigmore Hall

It was Stephen Kovacevich’s 70th birthday party and his highly individual guests represented past, present, and future.

Album: Gardiner, Santiago A Cappella (Soli Deo Gloria)

John Eliot Gardiner's prodigious output continues apace, with the recent Brahms 4th Symphony and an imminent further pair of his exhaustive pilgrimage series of Bach cantatas - surely the biggest current undertaking in any area of music - joined here by the reissue on his own label of another pilgrimage programme.

Monkemeyer/Rimmer, Wigmore Hall

Orchestral musicians are very like squaddies and schoolchildren, most notably in their penchant for ya-boo jokes: witness their puerile digs about the poor sods who play that instrumental Cinderella, the viola.

Album: Brahms, Symophony No 4 – Gardiner (Soli deo Gloria)

Recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall, John Eliot Gardiner's interpretation of Brahms' Fourth Symphony seemed deeply perverse at the time.

Album: Brahms, Piano Quintet etc/ William Howard, Champs Hill

Brahms's Piano Quintet in F minor had a traumatic birth. Its first incarnation was as a string quartet, its second as a sonata for two pianos.

Album: Yuja Wang, Transformation (Deutsche Grammophon)

Not for Yuja Wang the mandatory selection of Chopin preludes and ballades; instead, she's chosen a theme, Transformation, here realised in various forms: most obviously, Brahms' famously tortuous Variations on a Theme by Paganini, but also Ravel's deconstruction of the waltz in La Valse, and most impressively, the gradual humanisation of the puppet in Stravinsky's Petrushka (and its subsequent reversion to wood). Wang's command and artistry is never in doubt right from the opening Allegro Giusto section, described in delicate little left-hand runs against a pointilliste upper-register, the combination lifting the piece in a weightless, dizzying dance.

Angela Hewitt, Wigmore Hall, London

The bright-sounding Fazioli marque does not suit the opaque moods of the Romantic repertoire

London Symphony Orchestra/Bychkov, Barbican Hall, London

Not all this year’s bicentennial tributes to Chopin will necessarily be by Chopin.

Paul Lewis / Steven Osborne, Wigmore Hall, London

There’s something symbolic of friendship in the interplay of two pairs of hands on one instrument, and never more than in Schubert’s four-hand music.

Album: Brahms, Symphonies 1 and 2 – LPO/Jurowski (LPO)

Performance style in Brahms has lately become as hotly contested an issue as it once was in Bach, with Mackerras arguing for impetuous speed changes and Gardiner so busy identifying thematic strata that the topography is blurred.

Simon Keenlyside/ Malcolm Martineau, Wigmore Hall, London

It was during the Hugo Wolf setting of Mörike’s “An eine Äolsharfe” (“To an Aeolian Harp”) in this marvellous Simon Keenlyside/ Malcolm Martineau recital that it became clear that the ever-delicate art of lieder singing had hit some kind of high, not just for this evening but for the craft in general.

Simon Keenlyside / Malcolm Martineau, Wigmore Hall

It was during the Hugo Wolf setting of Mörike’s “An eine Äolsharfe” (“To an Aeolian Harp”) in this marvellous Simon Keenlyside/ Malcolm Martineau recital that it became clear that the ever-delicate art of lieder singing had hit some kind of high, not just for this evening but for the craft in general. It really doesn’t get a whole lot better.

Scottish Chamber Orchestar/Ticciati, City Halls, Glasgow

Robin Ticciati is already a hot ticket. At just 26, the music director of Glyndebourne's touring arm and principal guest conductor-elect of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra has added another string to his bow, taking up his position as principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

La Boh&egrave;me, Cock Tavern Theatre, Kilburn, London<br/>Jansons / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Barbican, London

A tiny and youthful production of 'La Boh&egrave;me' has authenticity, and Mahler makes the singers cry
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