Arts and Entertainment

Kings Place, London

Grace Yeo: Classical review

Wigmore Hall, London

Angela Hewitt, classical review: 'A firm and full-blooded sound'

Wigmore Hall, London

Levin, Chuang, OAE, Faultless: Classical review

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Album review: Einav Yarden, Oscillations: Piano Music by Beethoven & Stravinsky (Challenge Classics)

This is an unusual juxtaposition of seemingly incongruent composers, not least because of their contrasting attitudes to piano music – such an integral aspect of Beethoven's work, virtually an afterthought for Stravinsky, despite the instrument's centrality to his compositional process.

Classical review: Jennifer Pike, Sharp, Arensky, Kunhardt, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Ever since she made history by winning the BBC Musician of the Year contest at the age of twelve, Jennifer Pike has been setting a furious pace as a performer, while maintaining a healthy academic balance.

Imogen Cooper’s coolly reflective reading of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto was at odds with the more extrovert approach of the Budapest Festival Orchestra under its conductor Ivan Fischer

Classical review: Budapest Festival Orchestra - Bohemian rhapsody marred by clash of styles

In 2011, Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra played two BBC Proms in one night. The first was a meticulously disciplined programme of Liszt and Mahler, the second a jamboree of party pieces and encores, selected by raffle from a list of some 200 works. Encores are the great disinhibitors of classical music and they have served Fischer and his orchestra well. Now 30 years old, the BFO can melt the cognoscenti with musical kitsch, compete with the finest in core symphonic repertoire, and deliver Beethoven with the transparency of period instruments. Whether this should all be attempted in one performance is another matter.

Imogen Cooper

Classical review: Imogen Cooper, Ivan Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, London

The cadenza in a classical concerto is a curious thing. Originally devised as a way of letting the soloist show off, it became a commentary on the work it adorned, as well as a holiday from it: the soloist could take you on a switchback journey before bringing you safely home. These days, with so many other opportunities for display, its bravura function has faded, so soloists often use it instead as a slot to puff their own wares – as Kennedy does when he injects jazz and Gypsy music into his Brahms.

Andras Schiff, Wigmore Hall, London

When a major pianist tackles the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas the results are always fascinating. Daniel Barenboim’s Southbank performances in 2008 may have had such startling blemishes that he refused to let Radio 3 broadcast them, but they still glow majestically in the memory.

Andras Schiff, Wigmore Hall (****)/ Mitsuko Uchida, Royal Festival Hall (*****)

Those who don’t like Andras Schiff’s Beethoven say he plays like a tyrant: for those who do, his way with the great sonata-cycle has something approaching the authority of an oracle. But even oracles can get things wrong, and so did Schiff’s account of the Rondo of Opus 31 No 1: Beethoven may have written in some quirkiness, but not to the mannered degree we got it here. Sometimes Schiff gets carried away by his own doctrinaire convictions.

Ashley Wass; Yevgeny Sudbin, Wigmore Hall, London

Few pianists give as little away with their body-language as Ashley Wass does in his neat dark suit: impassive from start to finish, he even acknowledges tumultuous applause without cracking a smile.

Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell

IoS Sounds of 2013: Classical

Old stories ignite new passions as Oliver Knussen conducts Angelika Kirchschlager in The Rape of Lucretia, and Barbara Hannigan, James Gilchrist and Jasper de Waal join Amsterdam Sinfonietta for Les Illuminations and Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.

The best music of 2012: Classical

From the slow heartbeat of Richard Tunnicliffe's Bach Cello Suites, to the quicksilver figures of Carole Cerasi's Scarlatti Sonatas, this was a great year for imagination and invention.

Andy McSmith: Forget the Stones, rock up to a concerto

Classical music is an acquired taste. I have not quite recovered from the extraordinary experience of hearing a live performance of a 100-year-old concerto at the Royal Festival Hall last week, but I know that the notion that classical music can be as exhilarating in its own way as a Rolling Stones revival sounds off-beam to most of the population.

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