Arts and Entertainment

Last autumn Helene Grimaud released a fine recording of Brahms’ piano concertos under the baton of Andris Nelsons: to hear them perform the second concerto live with the Philharmonia Orchestra was to realise anew what a superb symbiosis they can achieve.

Conductor Claudio Abbado performing with his orchestra during the opening concert of the Lucerne Festival, in Lucerne, Switzerland

Claudio Abbado dies aged 80: An appreciation of the late conductor

No wonder he was widely considered the finest conductor of his day, he was certainly the best-loved of them all, writes Jessica Duchen

Labeque Sisters, BBCSO, Bychkov - classical review

Barbican, London

John Hopkins: Conductor who worked with the BBC in the 1950s then forged a new career in Australia and New Zealand

To classical music lovers of a certain age, the words “BBC Northern Orchestra, conducted by John Hopkins”, spoken by the veteran BBC North Region announcer Tom Naisby, remain a vivid memory of 1950s wireless listening.

I won't be invited on Desert Island Discs, but if I was, I've got it all planned out...

My island would be full of the divine sound of the ukelele

Bryan Ferry, gig review: 'a perfect balance of nostalgia and reinvention'

Shepherds Bush Empire, London

Levin, Chuang, OAE, Faultless: Classical review

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Classical album review: Mark-Anthony, Turnage
Speranza etc (LSO Live)

From the Wreckage, Turnage’s 2005 trumpet concerto, was written for the Swedish virtuoso Hakan Hardenberger. Speranza, an LSO commission, is played without the fourth of five movements that Turnage dropped after February’s premiere. The remaining four, the title of each, like that of the work, meaning “hope” – in Arabic, Gaelic, German and Hebrew – are partly inspired by the bleak poetry of Jewish-Romanian poet and Holocaust survivor Paul Celan.

Album review: Robbie Williams, Swings Both Ways, Island

Those who endured Williams’s recent X Factor performance need not fear: this brassy sequel to 2001’s big-band LP Swing When You’re Winning, is actually rather listenable. Not to say it’s great: he’s a karaoke kind of crooner and some of the covers here – such as “I Wanna Be Like You” with Olly Murs – should have remained the preserve of some celebrity charity ball.

Album review: Archie Shepp, I Hear the Sound, Archie Ball

Shepp’s latest release is a great 40th anniversary recreation of his famous 1972 live album Attica Blues, a black-consciousness riposte to the four-day riot at Attica prison – sparked by the death, in 1971, of the Black Panther George Jackson – which left 43 people dead.

Classical album review: Benjamin Britten, War Requiem – Antonio Pappano (Warner)

Of all the many great works by Britten revisited live and on disc for the centenary of the composer’s birth this month, perhaps none packs the punch of his War Requiem, the words of the Latin Mass for the dead punctuated by the frank front-line poetry of Wilfred Owen.

Toulon’s Jonny Wilkinson was forced off with an injured hand

Food for thought: Nico Muhly, composer

The American composer is a co-founder of the LA Dance Project, which makes its London debut at Sadler’s Wells this week. His opera Two Boys also opens next month at the Met in New York. He tells Charlotte Cripps  about his current reading, watching and listening ...

Album review: Steven Isserlis, Dvorak cello concertos (Hyperion)

Isserlis, who has resisted for 40 years recording this much-loved piece from the heart of the cellist’s repertoire, breaks his duck, and even adds an earlier Dvorak concerto, orchestrated by Gunter Raphael.

Album review: Jonas Kaufmann, The Verdi Album (Sony)

Murder, humiliation, self-sacrifice, revenge … it’s all in  a day’s work for Verdi’s heroes and villains, given voice on this full-throttle compilation by the go-to tenor of his generation.

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