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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.

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Celebrating the music of Carl Nielsen, the Hallé and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras are beginning the new year by leaving symphonic visiting cards on each other's home territory.

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Elder, Royal Festival Hall, London

Engaging Anne-Sophie Mutter for the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto is certainly one way of guaranteeing a full house for orchestral rarities by Martinu and Strauss. Throw in a rather charming public defence of the Strauss - the much-maligned Symphonia Domestica - by the conductor, Mark Elder, and you've got yourself an event.

Verdi Requiem/LSO/Davis, Barbican Hall, London

When you're an octogenarian, the prospect of another Requiem Mass – even Verdi's – might be seen with some circumspection. Unless, you are Sir Colin Davis.

Members of the London Philharmonic/Elder, Wigmore Hall, London

Wigmore Hall's tiny platform was almost as crowded as Richard Wagner's staircase on Christmas morning 1870 when he presented his beloved wife Cosima with a performance of his newly composed Siegfried Idyll. Forest murmurs from the second act of his Ring opera "Siegfried" will have wafted through the lakeside house at Tribschen near Lucerne, dappled instrumental colours broken with bird-call and the sound of the super-hero's horn.

Members of the London Philharmonic / Elder, Wigmore Hall, London

Wigmore Hall's tiny platform was almost as crowded as Richard Wagner's staircase on Christmas morning 1870 when he presented his beloved wife Cosima with a performance of his newly composed Siegfried Idyll.

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall, London

The Adagio from Mahler's 10th Symphony served as an upbeat (or should that be downbeat) kind of Liebestod or "love-death" before the "supreme ecstasy" of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde – Act II.

Riders to the Sea, Coliseum, London <br>Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jansons, Royal Festival Hall, London

Its conductor Richard Hickox may have died, but this slight Vaughan Williams show goes on

<a href="http://edseckerson.livejournal.com/2011.html">Edward Seckerson: English National Opera &amp; London Philharmonic PODCASTS</a>

Allow me a shameless plug, friends, for my ongoing English National Opera and London Philharmonic Orchestra podcasts.

London Philharmonic Orchestra podcast: December

Edward Seckerson explores concert performances of two very different operas.

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

You generally know within seconds of the start of a performance if a conductor has what it takes to take us to that other place where senses are heightened. It was the performance of Ravel's La Valse at the start of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's first concert as principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic that will have convinced a lot of people of great things to come.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Nezet-Seguin, Royal Festival Hall

Conducting is a mystical business. You generally know within seconds of the start of a performance if he or she has what it takes to take an orchestra and an audience to that other place where senses are heightened and the air seems to move a little differently.

Shake, Rattle and roll: Simon Rattle returns to Liverpool

As Simon Rattle returns to his home city of Liverpool, Lynne Walker joins him in rehearsals to watch how he can transform an orchestra

David Lister: The stage is set for new audiences

The other day I stood in the ladies' lavatory of a West End theatre with Sir Cameron Mackintosh, and admired his handiwork. Sir Cameron has been lovingly restoring the theatres he owns, the most recent being the Wyndham's, and increasing the number of ladies' loos has been a priority. He has also smartened them up. I will be demanding equal rights for the Gents.

Album: Britten, Piano Concerto/Young Apollo/Diversions &ndash; BBC SSO/Volkov/Osborne (Hyperion)

All three works in this collaboration between Ilan Volkov, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and pianist Steven Osborne date from 1938 to 1940.

Prom 64 (Berliner Philharmoniker/Rattle)<br/>Prom 62 (Gustav Mahler/Davis) <br/>Prom 61 (BBC Symphony Orchestra/Belohlavek)<br/>Prom 63 (BBC Singers/Hill) Royal Albert Hall, London

A highly charged performance of some of the most erotic music in the orchestral repertoire is as classy as it is explicit
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