Voices

As a hack myself, I ought not to be surprised if I myself become the victim of hackery. But last week I was royally stitched-up and for a moment, I confess, I had a sense of humour failure.

Album: The Dublin Drag Orchestra, Motion of the Heart/¡Viva Frida! (Heresy)

This double-EP offers differing takes on 17th-century musical strains, pairing one disc of romantically themed pieces by English composers with a suite of five Mexican songs arranged as a tribute to Frida Kahlo.

Album: Peter Gabriel, Live Blood (Realworld/Eagle)

After the Scratch My Back and New Blood albums of orchestrated re-imaginings of his and others' songs, and last year's New Blood Live in London DVD, another two-hour, two-CD live set based on the same material may be a case of Peter Gabriel returning to this well once too often.

Album: Various Artists: Night Music: Voice in the Leaves (Louth Contemporary Music Society)

Named after a piece by the Uzbek composer Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, Night Music: Voice in the Leaves explores music from the former Soviet Asian republics, played with dexterity and sensitivity by performers including the theremin virtuoso Lydia Kavina, who excels on Iraida Yusupova's "Kitezh-19", in which her eerily plaintive keening is allied to a tape of varispeeded chimes and plucked strings.

Album: Mairi Morrison & Alasdair Roberts, Urstan (Drag City)

Alasdair Roberts and Mairi Morrison are part of a golden generation of Scots performers bringing new light to bear on folk music.

First for helicopter opera

The Birmingham Opera Company is to take to the skies to stage the first complete performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen's opera Mittwoch aus Licht (Wednesday from Light).

Mario Balotelli talks to Noel Gallagher on the BBC's Football Focus

Noel Gallagher exclusive: Forget about me, Balotelli's the real rock star

We want to believe this kid goes into petrol stations and buys everyone a full tank

Album: Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin, Music for the Berlin Court (Harmonia Mundi)

When Frederick II assumed the Prussian throne, his Berlin court became one of Europe's main centres of musical endeavour.

Gustav Leonhardt: Harpsichordist who brought about a revolution in early music

Gustav Leonhardt was an unassuming, private man, and his instrument, the harpsichord, may seem an improbably modest vehicle to bring about a sea-change in the way the music of an entire era is performed and listened to. But at the outset of Leonhardt's career, in the early 1950s, neither musicians nor instrument-makers gave much thought to the conditions in which composers like Bach and Handel might have worked: Baroque music was performed with little stylistic insight, often on instruments solid enough to withstand enemy fire. Leonhardt's superb musicianship – at the organ as well as the harpsichord, and as conductor, scholar and teacher – combined with methodical, self-effacing rigour to strip away two centuries of accreted performance practice and so allow modern audiences to hear the Baroque as it might have sounded in Bach's own day.

Andreas Staier, Wigmore Hall

Ever since Glenn Gould’s best-selling recording was released in 1955, Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ have been so popular as to be almost crossover fare.

Album: Atalante, Erin Headley, Lamentarium (Destino Classics/Nimbus Alliance)

Erin Headley is the leading performer - probably the sole performer, in fact - on the lirone, a 17th century precursor of the cello with between 9 and 14 strings, whose sound was said to move the emotions uncontrollably.

Ibanez succeeds in red card appeal

West Bromwich defender Pablo Ibanez has won his appeal against the red card he picked up in Monday's Premier League defeat to Blackpool.

Pablo Ibanez wins red card appeal

West Brom defender Pablo Ibanez has won his appeal against the red card he picked up in Monday's Premier League defeat to Blackpool.

West Brom appeal Pablo Ibanez red card

West Brom this afternoon confirmed they would appeal the red card issued to defender Pablo Ibanez in last night's 2-1 defeat at Blackpool.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game