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: Brahms, Symphony No 1/Variations... (Channel Classics)

Lest there be any confusion over how Ivan Fischer views Brahms, this disc begins with his highly spiced, string orchestra arrangement of Hungarian Dance No 14.

Album: Brahms, Symphonies 1-4/Simon Rattle (EMI Classics)

Honeymoon period and local backlash behind him, Rattle can still produce startling results with the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Album: Brahms, Symphony No 3 / Choral Works (Soli Deo Gloria)

Odd in the extreme when heard live, the super-sweet timbre of The Monteverdi Choir's high tenors and sopranos is sublime in this recording from two performances in Paris and London.

Album: Brahms, The String Quartets/Nash Ensemble, (ONYX)

Uninspired by his sketches for a Fifth and Sixth Symphony, Brahms intended the G-major Quintet to be his last work. A vibrant synthesis of Magyar snap, Baroque figures and Bohemian lyricism, it is played like a miniature string symphony in this recording from the Nash Ensemble. There's a wonderful physicality to their sound: the violins intensely sweet, the violas pungent, the single cello limber and long-legged. The Schubertian F-major Quintet is a technical tour de force, again beautifully played.

Album: Brahms/Korngold, Violin Concertos – Znaider/Gergiev/ Wiener Phil, (RCA)

Brahms tasteful, Korngold vulgar, right? Not in this recording. Soloist Nikolaj Znaider's meticulously judged vibrato glows through the poignant Romance of Korngold's Violin Concerto while Valéry Gergiev works his quivering magic with the Wiener Philharmoniker.

Observations: Nikolaj Znaider adds another string to his bow

The London Symphony Orchestra's Artist Focus series couldn't have picked a better guest star than Nikolaj Znaider. Currently in the swing of the intensive residency, the Danish-born musician, 33, is the violinist of the moment. Tall, imposing, classically handsome, he cuts a tremendous dash on the concert platform, playing the 1741 Guarneri del Gesù violin that once belonged to the great Fritz Kreisler. But for this James Bond of the violin, the world is not enough.

London Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus/Nezet-Seguin, Royal Festival Hall, London

Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem should be mandatory for anyone (and there are many) who has ever uttered a disparaging or ill-considered word against its composer. Under the conspicuously talented Yannick Nezet-Seguin, it shone, it thundered, it inspired all-enveloping awe and consolation.

London Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus/ Nezet-Seguin, Royal Festival Hall, London

Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem should be mandatory for anyone (and there are many) who has ever uttered a disparaging or ill-considered word against its composer.

Album: Arcanto Quartet, Brahms: String Quartet No 1, Op 51; Piano Quintet, Op 34 (Harmonia Mundi)

Brahms was apparently so petrified of comparisons with Beethoven's achievements in the form that he destroyed the 20 or so string quartets he composed as a youth before finally, having turned 40, conquering his fears with the String Quartet No 1, Op 51, whose fastidious melancholy is expertly realised here.

Hagen Quartet/ Uchida, Wigmore Hall

Who would have imagined that one could experience a kinship of sorts between string quartets by Mozart and Bartok written over a century apart?

The Brothers Karamazov, Barbican, London

It's a brave (or foolhardy) man who dares to make an opera of Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. Throughout the long first act of Alexander Smelkov and Yury Dimitrin's adaptation for the Mariinsky Theatre, the effect was a little like speed-reading it while under the influence. If you didn't know the novel at all, the seemingly reckless dash of the narrative, the dislocation of characters and ideas, will have left you feeling marooned in some grand farce. To some extent, Dostoyevsky's last novel is just that – the anatomy of a chaotic society and the human conditions driving it. But still I wonder if the composer and his librettist have got the balance right between the grimly ironic and the tragic?

Can the Manning brothers add some Liverpudlian sparkle to their new, Wagamama-style noodle bar?

HoSt, 31 Hope Street, Liverpool, tel: 0151 708 5831
Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

A
Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before