Arts and Entertainment

Kings Place, London

Prom 50: Beethoven Fidelio, West-East Divan Orchestra/ Barenboim, Royal Albert Hall, London

It is impossible to separate the West-East Divan Orchestra from what they represent, so the climax of their two-day presence at the Proms – a concert performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio – was always going to carry a loaded political message.

Howard Jacobson: Hark the distant angels sing, plucking a tune on just four strings

We laugh at the heroic in away that would be impossible if we did not venerate it

Album: Boëly, Musique de Chambre – Quatuor Mosaïques, (Laborie)

Half-fossil, half-innovator, organist and composer Alexandre Pierre François Boëly (1785-1858) was the self-appointed guardian of the classical style.

The Fairy Queen, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, East Sussex<br>Fidelio, Garsington Opera, Oxfordshire<br>Mirandolina, Garsington Opera, Oxfordshire

'The Fairy Queen' doesn't need lewd additions to get noticed &ndash; Purcell's score is seductive enough

Album: Kent Nagano, Beethoven: Ideals of the French Revolution, (Sony Classical)

Beethoven was famously energised by the principles of the French Revolution, before being disillusioned by Napoleon's betrayal of those principles.

Robert Levin, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

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.

Fidelio, Garsington Manor, Oxfordshire

Chilling villain is cold comfort

Beethoven Fidelio, Garsington Opera, London

When Leonora asks Rocco to allow the prisoners out of their cells and into the garden in the first act of Beethoven’s Fidelio, the beauty of the Garsington Manor setting comes into its own like a tantalising mirage.

Robert Levin&rsquo;s Haydn, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

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 musicologist and fortepianist Robert Levin was doing at the South Bank.

Sir Roger Norrington 75th-birthday concert, Royal Festival Hall, London

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.

Album: Daniel Barenboim & West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Beethoven Symphony No 9, Leonore Overture No 3 (Medici Arts (DVD))

Established by Daniel Barenboim and the late Edward Said to promote Arab/Israeli understanding, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra features young players from across various Middle-Eastern borders.

Handel loved Britain &ndash; but that doesn't mean we have to love him back

Hallelujah! 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of Georg Friedrich Handel's death. In the UK, which has produced perhaps five musical geniuses in 350 years, the domicile of this German giant in London from 1712 is taken as something of a national triumph; he's been deified ever since. To question his supremacy is to blaspheme against three centuries of opinion. But does his music deserve such status?

Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: My marriage of five years was a mistake and I want a divorce

Dear Virginia,

I am in a dreadful situation. I've decided that my marriage of five years was a mistake. I want to get a divorce – but my wife says that if we start a family, everything will be all right. My mother, whom I love very much, is vehemently against a divorce. She adores my wife and treats her like the daughter she never had. She also wants grandchildren, and says if I get a divorce she won't speak to me again. What can I do?

Yours sincerely, Matt

Album: Beethoven, Lieder und Ges&#228;nge &ndash; Ainsley/Burnside, Signum

There is something monumental about John Mark Ainsley's Beethoven – a heroic seriousness that suggests that even in the briefest of 'Lieder', or the most carefree 'Gesänge', the composer was writing for posterity.

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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

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Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

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Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
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Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

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She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

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French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

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Dame Harriet Walter interview

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