Arts and Entertainment

First seen as part of a 1912 double bill, Ariadne auf Naxos was revised and reshaped as Europe plunged into the carnage of the First World War. Strauss was profoundly relieved when his son, Franz, was declared unfit for military service. But his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, had already served as a reservist when the now familiar version of their backstage comedy on high and low art premiered in Vienna in 1916, four days after the assassination of the prime minister in the dining room of a hotel a few minutes' walk from the opera house.

BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/ Bychkov, Barbican Hall

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. Rachmaninov didn’t: he knew. Or rather he was convinced that they all tolled for him. His splendid choral symphony The Bells is full of ominous premonition with even the “Silver Sleigh Bells” of a lost youth - scintillating with some of the composer’s most expensive orchestration - promising only oblivion.

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/ Rattle, Barbican Hall

They’ve called this unprecedented five-day residency “The London Concerts” and having already shown off the youthful core of players at the heart of this venerable and venerated orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra duly expanded from chamber to symphonic proportions and crossed the river from the Southbank to the Barbican for what was by any standards a wondrous display of high-end artistry.

First Night: Berliner Philharmoniker/Simon Rattle, Queen Elizabeth Hall

'Orchestral republic' shows its power with Rattle at the helm

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Nézet-Séguin, Royal Festival Hall, London

Two perfect works in perfect equilibrium; Mozart and Mahler well met indeed.

London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/ Elder, Barbican Hall

Elgar’s The Kingdom arrives in the heat of inspiration on a surge of orchestral magnificence. A glorious theme representing “New Faith” is announced in the strings, as noble and aspirational as anything Elgar wrote.

Radio 3 - Low-brow, lightweight and losing its way?

What's happened to Radio 3? It seems to fear treating classical music seriously, says regular listener Nicholas de Jongh

London Symphony Orchestra/ Douglas/ Roth, Barbican Hall

Programming Liszt is like counting calories: you can blow your entire month’s intake in less than an hour.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Saraste, Royal Festival Hall

In a programme note for the premiere of his 2nd Violin Concerto in 1943 Bohuslav Martinu wrote of the eternal tension between “absolute music” and music with an expressive purpose.

Barefoot orchestra blows its own horn

Kinshasa, the chaotic capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is used to just about every noise imaginable.

Album: Khachaturian, Spartacus/Gayaneh (Onyx)

Under Marin Alsop, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra raised its game with recordings of Bernstein and Adams. Now its new director, Kirill Karabits, has chosen an impactful selection of music from Khachaturian's ballets for his debut recording, affording a lively workout for the percussionists.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Petrenko, Royal Festival Hall

What a journey we took here from the muted half-lights of Stravinsky’s Scherzo Fantastique to the tumultuous bell-laden prophecy at the close of Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony.

Jiri Novak: Violinist who eschewed a solo virtuoso career to lead the Smetana Quartet for more than 30 years

Jiri Novak, the leader of the celebrated Smetana Quartet, was considered to bethe foremost string-quartet leader of his time, and was one whose modesty concealed an enormous talent and profound musicianship.

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall, London<br/>Markus Werba, Wigmore Hall, London<br/>London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, London

As the BBC Symphony Orchestra turns 80, its value for money has never been more pronounced

Observations: Flick the baton and win a prize

Next week, 20 young conductors will compete in London for a prize of £15,000 and the chance to work for a year as assistant conductor to the London Symphony Orchestra. Whence comes this contest, some of whose winners are now established stars? Step forward Donatella Flick, daughter of an Ossetian prince and fanatical donor to musical and humanitarian charities.

Faust, Coliseum, London<br/>London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, London

A splendidly sung and updated reading of a morality tale loses the Faustian themes of shame and the supernatural
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