Arts and Entertainment

Barbican, London

London Symphony Orchestra / Davis, Barbican Hall, London

It says something for Sir Colin Davis’ eternal vitality and musical curiosity that he should come to the dynamic Carl Nielsen symphonies so late in life.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Gergiev, Barbican Hall

As sometimes happens in live performances a soloist’s encore might display a brilliance and precision that one might have felt lacking in the main event – or, in this case, events.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Jarvi, Barbican Hall

The Scandinavians were coming: Nielsen and Grieg had tall tales to tell and Sibelius’s Violin Concerto had promised the über-virtuosic Julia Fischer.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Rattle, Barbican Hall

Another ingeniously apposite piece of programming from Simon Rattle – but this time the Berlin Philharmonic had stayed in Berlin and a long awaited re-match with the London Symphony Orchestra presented two mighty instrumental canvasses as startling in sonic contrast as they were bonded in spirit.

Baton charge: Valery Gergiev on being the world’s most prolific maestro

The world's busiest conductor is about to take on Mahler's last. Valery Gergiev tells Jessica Duchen about his drive, and his liking for Vladimir Putin

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.

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 Symphony Orchestra / Gardiner, Barbican Hall, London

The tricky opening chord of Weber's Der Freischütz overture needed warming up – didn't we all – but a quartet of horns quickly lent a dappled glow to the proceedings and the mercury began to rise.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Gardiner, Barbican Hall

The tricky opening chord of Weber’s Der Freischutz Overture needed warming up – didn’t we all - but a quartet of horns quickly lent a dappled glow to the proceedings and the mercury began to rise.

London Symphony Orchestra/Alsop, Barbican Hall

It was extraordinary but not especially surprising how Gustav Mahler’s presence could loom so large in a concert containing not one single note of his music.

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.

Album: Antony & the Johnsons, Swanlights (Rough Trade)

The voice of an angel, the lyrics of a crossword puzzle

BBC Proms: LSO/ Gergiev, Royal Albert Hall, London

It was somewhat ironic that amidst the profusion of orchestral perfumes emanating from Scriabin’s 1st Symphony those seated closest to the orchestra were momentarily overcome by the acrid scent of burning electrics. The illuminated panels across the rear of the Royal Albert Hall platform certainly chose their moment to go on the blink. Not that they were anything like the kind of light-show that Alexander Scriabin had in mind when he began thinking in psychedelic colours. The timing, though, was almost poetic.

Orchestrating racial harmony in the French banlieues

Taught to play instruments in just six months, children from the banlieues are set for a prestigious Paris debut

London Symphony Orchestra/ Elder, Barbican Hall, London

At the spiritual centre of this exciting re-match between Mark Elder and the London Symphony Orchestra was Benjamin Britten’s intellectual and emotional kinship with Dmitri Shostakovich.

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