Music helped those enduring the horrors of the Second World War, says Patrick Bade in a new book
The hotel on the other side of Lake Geneva cashed in on the delicious shamelessness of it. They hired out binoculars so that tourists could gawp pruriently at the Villa Diodati and its scandalous summer menage of the Shelleys; the "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" Byron, and Claire Clairmont, Mary Shelley's half-sister, who had slept with both poets and was carrying Byron's baby.
Recorded live at last year's Lucerne Festival, Claudio Abbado's Fidelio is as compelling as it is beautiful.
The strings are plumper than we've come to expect from recent Beethoven cycles but the Budapest Festival Orchestra can still deliver at the composer's original metronome markings.
In the 17 years since Frans Brüggen completed his still-thrilling Beethoven Cycle, the most vivid recordings have been period-modern hybrids.
My parents were ... smilers and Quakers. My mum was a physiotherapist, and my dad's a silversmith and blacksmith; they met at a peace camp in Germany after the war. My mum's German and moved to the UK to be with my dad.
To play one Beethoven piano concerto at the Proms looks like good fortune (as Oscar Wilde could have said, had he known), but to perform all five is – well, another matter altogether, especially with four different orchestras and conductors. Such is the task facing Paul Lewis, 38, who's almost certainly the best-loved British pianist of his vintage.
The title of James Rhodes' second piano recital comes from Glenn Gould – a "total nut-job" in Rhodes' words and patron saint of this idiosyncratic, honest, sometimes startling performance.
Recorded in Grenoble, Vichy and Paris, Emanuel Krivine's Beethoven dazzles with closely mic-ed details. La Chambre Philharmonique's bassoons are the unlikely stars, jostled out of the way by heaven-sent strings in the Adagio, and an almost comically hyperactive contrabassoon in the finale. Les Eléments deliver a lithe, moving account of Goethe's Ode, with a suave introduction from bass soloist Konstantin Wolff.Too much technical trickery to be properly "live", perhaps. But what a refreshing, bold reading.
The Roundhouse is more famous for rock than symphonies, but it could be just the venue to build up a young classical fanbase, says Jessica Duchen
The weighty refinement ofmodern instruments andthe incisive articulation ofhistorical performancepractice combine tothrilling effect in DouglasBoyd's live recording ofBeethoven's 1st and 3rdsymphonies withManchester Camerata.Perceptively detailed, No 1has a suspenseful, playfulmenuetto and a searingfinale. After the ecstaticbirth pangs of the 3rd'smarcia funebre, you canhear Mozart leaving thestage as a new music isborn: bold, lithe and noble.An exhilarating addition tothe catalogue of Beethovencycles.
Half-fossil, half-innovator, organist and composer Alexandre Pierre François Boëly (1785-1858) was the self-appointed guardian of the classical style.
The Haydn season kicked off with the obligatory splurge on Radio 3, and a massed charge led by Andras Schiff at the Wigmore Hall, but the really interesting thing was what the musicologist and fortepianist Robert Levin was doing at the Southbank. We quite often hear the fortepiano in these period-conscious days, but, sandwiched between performances on modern instruments, it always ends up sounding thin and a little bit impotent – so attuned are our ears to the luxurious richness of the Steinway.
Chilling villain is cold comfort
One might have expected a better turn-out for Sir Roger's 75th-birthday bash, especially since the highly eclectic programme – spanning some three centuries of music – contained a little bit of something for everyone. But maybe the Classic FM approach was unwise for an event of this kind, and maybe Norrington himself is still too much of a connoisseur's delight, too much of a maverick, ever to pull in the big crowds. And that's quite an irony, given that there are few more erudite, entertaining, communicative, or influential musicians on the planet. He is, in every sense, a one-off.