i Father Christmas, annual giftgiver

Not a regular in the public eye this one.

Swan Lake, Royal Albert Hall, London

English National Ballet's gargantuan Swan Lake-in-the-round is back, complete with dry ice, demon king entrances and a starry new prince. Vadim Muntagirov, ENB's boy wonder, made his debut at this performance.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Wigmore Hall, London

Dmitri Hvorostovsky dedicated his first Wigmore recital in many years to the great Russian mezzo Irina Arkhipova – a voice which by all accounts set this hall vibrating for days after the event. It’s interesting what the size of a hall and the type of acoustic can do for a voice.

The Sleeping Beauty, London Coliseum

Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty is a very courtly fairytale, packed with demanding pure dance and formal storytelling. The dancers of Birmingham Royal Ballet respond to both sides, with vivid mime and some easy, confident dancing.

Irina Arkhipova: Mezzo celebrated for her portrayal of Bizet's Carmen

The Russian mezzo Irina Arkhipova was one of the finest singers to come out of the Soviet Union in the period after the Second World War. Her voice was wide in range and even throughout its compass, with no perceptible "gear change" between the registers. Perfectly suited, vocally and dramatically, to the operas of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev, she also sang the great Verdi mezzo roles, in particular Amneris in Aida and Azucena in Il trovatore, with great success, both in Russian and Italian. Her favourite non-Russian part, however, was the heroine of Bizet's Carmen. In a career that lasted over 40 years she appeared at La Scala, Milan, the Paris Opéra, Covent Garden and other Western opera houses, but her home theatre was always the Bolshoi in Moscow.

Album: Rachmaninov, Symphonic Dances / Vasily Petrenko (Avie)

At the age of 20, Rachmaninov impressed Tchaikovsky with his fantasy for orchestra, "The Rock", and presented the score to Rimsky-Korsakov.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky & Anna Netrebko, Royal Festival Hall, London

They made for an interesting couple: he, svelte and knowing, his black velvet tails and shock of silver hair suggesting he might briefly have taken leave from Twilight or some other nocturnal vampire tale; she, girlishly innocent and ripe for his attentions.

Oper Opis, Barbican Theatre, London<br/>The Snow Queen, Coliseum, London

After an opening that is, literally, well balanced, a Swiss collaboration descends into a free-for-all

Building a Library, Radio 3<br/>Private Passions, Radio 3<br/>Breakfast, Radio 3

While some presenters try too hard, many celebrate classical music without a fuss. Just brace yourself for a glut of Chopin and Schumann

Swan Lake, Sadler&rsquo;s Wells, London<br/>The Nutcracker, Royal Opera House, London

Muscular swans, prancing sweets...it must be the start of a new dancing year

Album: Gautier Capu&ccedil;on, Valery Gergiev, Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme; Prokofiev: Sinfonia Concertante (Virgin Classics)

The pairing of Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme with Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante is not uncommon but I'm not convinced it plays to Gautier Capuçon's strengths.

Party of the Week - A cracking time was had by all...

Emma Thompson and Cherie Blair hugged each other like long-lost friends outside the English National Ballet's party at London's St Martins Lane Hotel, before a gala Christmas performance of The Nutcracker.

Kavakos/Lugansky/Tamestit/Capucon, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Leonidas Kavakos’ last concert as “An Artist in Focus” at the South Bank began with a postscript – a substantial one – to the recent Alfred Schnittke festival.

The Nutcracker, Royal Opera House, London

Magic Miyako's plum swansong

Tchaikovsky The Tsarina&rsquo;s Slippers, Royal Opera House, London

The words Tchaikovsky and Comedy don’t usually occur in the same sentence – and you may still be of that opinion after sitting through this expensively gift-wrapped but decidedly bland and singularly unfunny staging of the composer’s big-hearted Gogol adaptation.

Tchaikovsky, The Tsarina&rsquo;s Slippers, Royal Opera House

The words Tchaikovsky and Comedy don’t usually occur in the same sentence – and you may still be of that opinion after sitting through this expensively gift-wrapped but decidedly bland and singularly unfunny staging of the composer’s big-hearted Gogol adaptation.

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