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 review: Tugan Sokhiev, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Stravinsky: The Firebird, The Rite of Spring (Naïve)

Scandalous in its early performances, the stylised primitivism of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring can these days sound merely rumbustious – unless attacked with the youthful gusto of a Dudamel, whose 2010 interpretation with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra restored some of its pagan spirit.

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker

Sir Simon Rattle to leave Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra amid 'rebellion' rumours

Sir Simon Rattle has announced that he will leave the coveted role of conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra amid rumours of a “simmering rebellion” among the world’s finest, and fiercest, players.

Hundreds of people attend the arrival of Argentina's frigate Libertad in Mar del Plata

Argentina welcomes home ship held in Ghana by US 'vulture fund'

Naval vessel impounded for two and half months returns to triumphant homecoming

The best music of 2012: Classical

From the slow heartbeat of Richard Tunnicliffe's Bach Cello Suites, to the quicksilver figures of Carole Cerasi's Scarlatti Sonatas, this was a great year for imagination and invention.

Album: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mahler Symphonies 1-10 (RCO Amsterdam)

Though by no means an inveterate traditionalist, I admit to regarding televised opera with some suspicion until recently.

Album: Tracey Thorn, Tinsel and Lights (Strange Feeling)

Tracey Thorn takes a wider brief than usual for her Christmas Album Tinsel & Lights, mostly avoiding the routine carols and standards in favour of left-field choices from writers like Stephin Merritt, Sufjan Stevens and Low, the wonderfully oblique melody of whose "Taking Down the Tree" affords a lovely duet with Green Gartside of Scritti Politti. Gartside's own "Snow in Sun" is another highlight, cleverly paired with Randy Newman's "Snow".

Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates,
Birmingham Hippodrome

Brian Conley goes from the I'm A Celebrity... jungle to a Caribbean island in Birmingham

Belshazzar,Clayton, Joshua, Davies, Florissants, William Christie, Barbican

As a gift to the Messiahed-out, William Christie and his Arts Florissants offered Handel’s majestic oratorio on the Bible story which furnished our phrase ‘the writing on the wall’.

Collaborator: Harvey, centre, with the conductors Ilan Volkov, left, and Stefan Solyom

Professor Jonathan Harvey: Composer whose work spanned electronic and church music

He was a gifted cellist, and his work remained rooted in the practicalities of performance

H7steria, Pappenheim, Bell, Hughes,
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

It was pure serendipity that Jocelyn Pook’s "Hearing Voices" for mezzo-soprano, recorded voices, and orchestra should chime so neatly with the debate which has suddenly broken out - not least in this newspaper - about how society treats mental illness.

Bournemouth SO, Karabits, Ehnes, Colston Hall, Bristol

Devoting a series of concerts to the works of that celebrated mutual-admiration society Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich, conductor Kiril Karabits, violinist James Ehnes, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are onto a good thing.

Jurowski, Hayward, Ebrahim, LPO, Royal Festival Hall, London

Introducing the first of two concerts celebrating the indomitability of the human spirit, Vladimir Jurowski enjoined us to listen to its five works as five movements of a single one.

Donose and Diegel in Bieito’s Carmen

IoS classical review: Carmen, Coliseum, London
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Huddersfield

Intense, lean, witty and stripped of cliché: a 'Carmen' worth the wait

Album: The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, The Jazz Age (BMG)

As reinventions go, this is unexpected: Roxy Music's futurist pop re-recorded as Dixieland jazz instrumentals by Bryan Ferry himself.

Boyzone: Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Where are all the female musicians?

Most top orchestras have many more men than women in their ranks. Miranda Kiek looks at what could be done to improve the mix.

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Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
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Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
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The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
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How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
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First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor