Arts and Entertainment

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Album review: KT Tunstall, Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon (Virgin)

KT Tunstall's fourth album is by some distance her best, offering a series of deeply-felt musings on mortality, mercy and memory. Recorded at Howe Gelb's Wavelab Studio in Arizona in two sessions separated by a season – hence the different titles for the separate “sides” – it reflects her response to the death of her father, the first side's sensitive, reactions gradually supplanted by a new emotional light as her branches become strong enough to “play with the wind” and “carry the snow” again.

Classical review: Steven Osborne, Queen Elizabeth Hall/ Richard Goode, Wigmore hall, London

For Olivier Messiaen, birds were ‘the most outstanding musicians on our planet’, and it was typical of his serene imperviousness to brute reality that, while Paris burned around him in 1944, he should garland the themes of his supreme piano work with birdsong.

Album: Gwyneth Herbert, The Sea Cabinet (Monkeywood)

Recorded by the sea in Aldeburgh, Herbert's sort-of concept album is changeable as the ocean.

Album: Schubert, Winterreise - Alice Coote/Julius Drake (Wigmore Hall Live)

Female artists have sung Winterreise before, but not with the intensity of mezzo-soprano Alice Coote.

Album review: Little Boots, Nocturnes (On Repeat)

Following the burden of hype placed upon the electro-pop singer’s debut, she’s gone low-key for this follow-up, self-releasing and adopting a clubbier, more crepuscular sound.

Viktoria Mullova, Ottavio Dantone, Accademia Bizantina, Bach: Concertos (Onyx)

Album review: Viktoria Mullova, Ottavio Dantone, Accademia Bizantina, Bach: Concertos (Onyx)

Viktoria Mullova and Ottavio Dantone offer a further Bach programme, pairing the well-known violin concertos in E and A minor with two others transcribed by Dantone from harpsichord concertos.

Phoenix, Bankrupt! (Glassnote)

Album review: Phoenix, Bankrupt! (Glassnote)

French quartet Phoenix's follow-up to their 2009 breakthrough, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, continues in a similar vein of throwback pop whose retro leanings are neatly signalled by the nostalgic jet-set imagery of “Drakkar Noir”.

Album: Françoise Hardy, L'Amour Fou (EMI)

Hardy, the 69-year-old Parisienne pop icon, returns with, this time, no generation-hopping collaborations with Anglo-American indie stars.

Steve Earle & the Dukes (and Duchesses), The Low Highway (New West)

Album review: Steve Earle & the Dukes (and Duchesses), The Low Highway (New West)

Steve Earle's latest album pulls no punches in its survey of the American social landscape. The “low highway” of the title track is a sort of hardship highway travelled by the underclass. It's Springsteen territory, occupied with pride in songs like “21st Century Blues” and the elegiac closer “Remember Me”.

The Boy Least Likely To: another indie-pop duo making a comeback

Album: Tyler, the Creator, Wolf (Columbia/Odd Future)

Any idea that the furore about his homophobic and misogynist lyrics might have chastened him evaporates within the first few seconds of his third album.

Album: Brahms/Schumann/Schumann, Sonatas and Romances – Jennifer Pike/Tom Poster (Chandos)

The violinist's interpretation of Brahms's Sonata in G presents the young composer as a hungry outsider in the marriage of Robert and Clara Schumann.

Fred C Dobbs
Harrods has closed down its piano department

Off-key? Pianos fall off the scale as far as Harrods are concerned

It’s not quite the day the music died, but it is the week that Harrods killed off its piano department after 118 years. And while the Knightsbridge emporium wouldn’t be the first port of call for every would-be pianist in the market for a new instrument (“would madam care for an elephant with that Bechstein?”), the fact that it is closing its piano store’s doors is indicative of a wider trend.

Album review: Molly Drake, Molly Drake *Bryter Music)

When a recording of Molly Drake singing her composition "Poor Mum" was made public a few years ago, it was immediately evident from where much of her son Nick's talent, not to mention his intonation and fragile worldview, had derived.

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