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.

Album: Ketil Bjornstad, Vinding's Music (ECM)

Pianist and composer Bjornstad is also one of Norway's leading writers and this double CD represents a musical response to his trilogy of novels about a young piano student, Aksel Vinding.

The Cunning Little Vixen, Glyndebourne Festival, Glyndebourne, East Sussex

It might be deduced that the only thing worse than working with children and animals would be working with children as animals. But Leoš Janáček was unfazed by the old Hollywood adage and his cartoon-strip derived opera The Cunning Little Vixen was spirited from page to stage with uncynical conviction and, it has to be said, no end of technical hazards.

Einstein on the Beach at the Barbican Theatre

Einstein on the Beach, Barbican Theatre, London Carousel, Grand Theatre, Leeds
Juan Diego Florez, Royal Albert HallLondon

How do you compare multiple Einsteins? Well, it's all relative

One-time Strictly winner Tom Chambers steps into Fred Astaire’s dancing shoes in the new stage version of Top Hat

Top Hat, Aldwych, London
Babel, Caledonian Park, London
The Rest is Silence, Malthouse Estate Warehouse, Shoreham, West Sussex

It's hard to resist the retro-romance of Irving Berlin's tunes, fabulous dance routines and charming stars. Pity about the plot, though

Album: Piers Hellawell, Airs, Waters (Delphian)

The impressive range of Piers Hellawell's work is displayed on this collection of six compositions, five of which are premiere recordings.

Symphonies of natural sounds: A Macaw juvenile in flight

The Great Animal Orchestra, By Bernie Krause

This musician-turned-naturalist finds via his fieldwork that calls and cries can be matter of wild life and death.

Lloyd Brevett: Bassist with the Skatalites, originators of ska

The ska form was conceived by Brevett and his peers in the run-up to Jamaican independence

Wagner, The Flying Dutchman, English National Opera

The front curtain at the London Coliseum is a rare sight these days and suggested that we might for once be about to experience Wagner’s celebrated Overture without “illustration”.

Album: Ravi Shankar, Symphony (LPO)

It's not uncommon for Western composers like Tavener to bring Eastern influences into their work, but much rarer for an Indian classicist to operate in the Western tradition, as Ravi Shankar does here in his Symphony, which follows the classical four-movement structure but incorporates sitar (played by Shankar's daughter Anoushka) and raga scales into the orchestration.

Conductor in hospital after fall

The world-famous conductor Kurt Masur is recovering in hospital in Paris after he fell off a podium during a concert.

Album: Mozart/Strauss/Lanner, Walzer Revolution – Concensus Musicus Wien/Harnoncourt (Sony)

Nikolaus Harnoncourt and CMW offer a history of the waltz and other dances in music from Mozart to Johann Strauss and his contemporary Joseph Lanner.

Album: Vinicio Capossela, Marinai Profeti e Balene (Ponderosa)

The Italian Tom Waits/Tom Zé/Paolo Conte (take your pick) has taken musical ambition to new heights on this long-awaited effort.

St Matthew Passion, St George’s, Hanover Square

Passions are running high among the oppressed populace, and a weak colonial administrator decides to appease the angry crowd by throwing them a celebrated rebel as a sacrifice.

Album: Massanet – Werther, Villazón/Koch/Pappano/Royal Opera House (Deutsche Grammophon)

There is a moment in Act 1 where it seems as though Werther and Charlotte will be in love for ever.

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JJ Abrams' seventh Star Wars, The Force Awakens
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Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
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Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
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The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
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The Magna Carta
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Robbie Rogers: US former Leeds United footballer, 25, announced he was gay in February 2013, shortly after he left Elland Road. Rogers 'retired' after writing on his blog: 'I'm a soccer player, I'm Christian, and I'm gay.' Has since signed with Los Angeles Galaxy.
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Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
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All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
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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