Arts and Entertainment

Kings Place, London

LSO/Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner, Barbican

Music whose shock-value is an integral part of its power should not be heard too often, and when it’s plundered and parodied like Beethoven’s Ninth, this holds particularly true: three times a year is enough.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Fleming/ Eschenbach, Royal Festival Hall (3/5)

With Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture raising the curtain, so to speak, Renée Fleming arrived like Venus in a soufflé of black and bronze layered chiffon.

Uchida/Davis/LSO, Barbican

On the London Symphony Orchestra’s website there’s a conversation between pianist Mitsuko Uchida and conductor Colin Davis in which they discuss the Beethoven and Nielsen works they are currently performing at the Barbican.

Alice Sara Ott, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Every year the international piano circus requires a new pin-up: last year’s was Yuja Wang, this year it’s Alice Sara Ott.

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/ Chailly, Barbican Hall

The venerable and venerated Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra gave the first ever complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies and Riccardo Chailly, their 19Kapellmeister, was impatient to renew that sense of revelation and surprise in an age when each of the nine has grown so familiar that restoring the elusive shock-of-the-new factor can and does separate the sensation-seekers from the scholars.

Album: Kent Nagano, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Beethoven: In the Breath of Time (Sony Classical)

The latest in Kent Nagano's pairs of Beethoven symphonies, In the Breath of Time posits the 6th and 8th Symphonies and the "Grosse Fuge" as illustrating Beethoven's attempt to confront the dangers of the constant march of progress while simultaneously operating at its cutting edge.

Album: London Chamber Orchestra, Ravel/Fauré/Poulenc/Ibert (Signum Classics)

Sometimes, music requires more than merely combined star power to make it work, as Watch the Throne, the eagerly-awaited alliance between Jay-Z and Kanye West, seems to confirm.

The Ninth, By Harvey Sachs

Both a writer and a conductor, Sachs registers the huge shock achieved by a composer who in his final years had his "big-calibre artillery aimed at the future".

Chamber Prom 3, Prom 23, Rousset/Talens Lyriques/Hough/Noseda/BBC Philharmonic (4/5, 5/5)

Christophe Rousset regards his harpsichord as a time-machine, and his travels have yielded impressive fruit: he’s brought to light scores of works by French and Italian Baroque composers which had been overshadowed by Handel and Vivaldi.

Album: Beethoven, Fidelio Abbado / Stemme / Kaufmann / LFO (Decca)

Recorded live at last year's Lucerne Festival, Claudio Abbado's Fidelio is as compelling as it is beautiful.

Album: Claudio Abbado, Jonas Kaufmann, Nina Stemme, Beethoven: Fidelio (Decca)

Fidelio is one of the more sombre entries in Beethoven's oeuvre.

Daniel Barenboim, Wigmore Hall

Now approaching his seventieth birthday, Daniel Barenboim is not letting up.

Takacs Quartet/Stephen Hough, Wigmore Hall

As the world’s top venue for chamber music, the Wigmore Hall had a lot to celebrate on its 110th anniversary. But when it opened in 1901, it had a different name and purpose.

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.

Album: Gido Kremer, Beethoven: Violin Concerto (Newton Classics)

When Gidon Kremer's interpretation of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, recorded with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Neville Marriner, was originally issued in the early 1980s, the cadenzas written for him by his friend Alfred Schnittke caused a sensation – and rightly so, more than justifying Schnittke's subsidiary sleeve credit. Even decades later, their flinty, abrasive manner causes a considerable shock towards the end of the first movement Allegro, a collision of styles and eras that takes in subsequent developments by Berg, Bartok and Shostakovich, as well as Beethoven himself.

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