Arts and Entertainment

Barbican, London

A rookie at the Ring cycle

Valery Gergiev's Mariinsky production of Wagner's epic at the Royal Opera House didn't excite all of the critics, but 'Ring' newcomer Ivan Fallon left the auditorium after 18 hours hooked on this classic

Un ballo in maschera, Opera Holland Park, London<br/>Proms 5 &amp; 6, Royal Albert Hall, London<br/>Orpheus and Euridice, Blackheath Halls, London

A scandal rocks Washington in Verdi's drama of politics and betrayal - but one bold addition in Martin Lloyd-Evans's production doesn't smack of the truth

Prom 5: LSO/Haitink, Royal Albert Hall, London

Some concerts develop a momentum before they've begun. The London Symphony Orchestra's Prom with Bernard Haitink conducting Mahler's Ninth Symphony was one such. With all of musical London seemingly heading into the hall, the buzz was palpable, and it heralded an incomparable evening.

Valery Gergiev: The Ring master

It's the musical event of the summer. As the Mariinsky brings the Ring Cycle to London, Jessica Duchen meets the maestro in charge, the conductor Valery Gergiev

John McCarthy: Charismatic choral conductor and arranger

During the second half of the 20th century, John McCarthy was perhaps the most charismatic choral conductor of his generation. Highly adept at operating on all sides of the musical divide, amid a career of great length, distinction and influence, he became one of the most powerful and potent figures in British musical life.

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.

Lang Lang/Tan Dun/LSO, Barbican, London<br>Imogen Cooper, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Tan Dun's new work may be ambitious, but pianist Lang Lang gives it more glamour than it's worth

London Symphony Orchestra/Pappano/Andsnes, Barbican Hall, London

Purposefully written for his concert tour of the USA in 1909, Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto was designed to impress. It's a show-off piece and then some. But, as the gifted Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has been demonstrating time and again in recent years, there is another way of playing it.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Andsnes, Barbican Hall

Purposefully written for his concert tour of the USA in 1909, Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto was designed to impress.

Total immersion: Stockhausen, Barbican/LSO St Luke's, London

Barrie Gavin's 1980 film about Karlheinz Stockhausen is framed by a performance of his flower-power anthem "Stimmung", the singers' lips shot in close-up, and by a lecture delivered by the composer in a natty frock-coat: everything reflects the magic that got him on to the cover of Sgt Pepper.

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.

Total Immersion: Stockhausen Composer Day, Barbican/LSO St Luke&rsquo;s

As a ‘Times’ television critic in 1979, I regrettably failed to review ‘Tuning In’, Barrie Gavin’s Omnibus film about Karlheinz Stockhausen. So as an ‘Independent’ music critic I’m happy to remedy the omission, on its second public airing three decades later.

Observations: Persian poet's musical journey

He has performed sell-out concerts across America and in his native Iran. The composer Hafez Nazeri is hoping that this year, his mystical musings inspired by the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi can be just as successful in Britain. "I'm trying to bring the world together with a music that can talk to everyone," says the classically trained Nazeri who is now in London, where he has just recorded his first CD with the London Symphony Orchestra. Nazeri's brand integrates the melodic sounds of the West with those of Iran, to produce a "spiritual journey" based on the work of Persia's great Sufi poet, who has also inspired Madonna.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Previn, Barbican Hall

It doesn’t seem so very long ago (but it was) that Andre Previn crossed over from the darkside (a.k.a. Hollywood) and sought the classical limelight in London.

Richard Hickox: Conductor who left a prodigious recorded legacy of British music

The sudden death of the conductor Richard Hickox from a heart attack in a Cardiff hotel bedroom puts an abrupt end to a career that was reaping the high-profile rewards of long years of devotion to his craft – in a profession where he might reasonably have expected to enjoy another three decades of music-making.

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