Arts and Entertainment

Josie Long is an award-winning comedian and writer. She will perform with Robin Ince in Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre (10-22 Dec) and also on tour in Robin and Josie’s Shambles.

Metal Machine Trio, Royal Festival Hall, London

Jez Butterworth's must-see play, Jerusalem, ends with its central character, Johnny "Rooster" Byron, banging on a drum and calling on the spirits of the forest to defend him against approaching bulldozers, which symbolise the encroaching modern world. It is a primal, feral and stirring moment. The same could be said of the sight of a worryingly frail-looking Lou Reed banging repeatedly on a huge gong.

National Youth Orchestra/ Daniels, Royal Festival Hall, London

Volcanic eruptions have not been confined to Iceland. The South Bank’s Varese weekend came a full “360 degrees” to its explosive climax with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain going cosmic with the composer’s two orchestral blockbusters.

John Cale, Royal Festival Hall, London

Sprightly Cale still sparkles

Tamerlano, Royal Opera House, London<br/>Don Pasquale, Sadler's Wells, London<br/>Scoring a Century, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham<br/>Songs of a Wayfarer, Royal Festival Hall, London

A change of cast left a Verdi audience in front of a Handel opera, and they were never going to make it to Act III of this lumpy marathon

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/ Fischer, Royal Festival Hall, London

It’s one small step for Beethoven and a giant leap for mankind from the First to his Eighth Symphony and to hear both works in tandem on instruments of the period only intensifies the revolution drawing us ever closer to the mighty Ninth.

The Abduction from the Seraglio, Millennium Centre, Cardiff<br/>The Gamblers, Royal Festival Hall, London

Welsh National Opera gets up a good head of steam, and fragments of Gogol are a tantalisingly brief encounter

Krystian Zimerman, Royal Festival Hall, London

It’s fitting that the South Bank should mark Chopin’s alternative birthdays - scholars can’t agree on the correct one - with performances by two great Chopinists.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall, London

Fateful prophecies and exultant perorations – the enduring spirits of Leos Janacek and Josef Suk ascend from the valley of the shadow of death and another of Vladimir Jurowski’s beautifully crafted programmes for the London Philharmonic makes connections that will profoundly affect the way we hear these works in the future.

Ruddigore, Grand Theatre, Leeds<br/>Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin, Royal Festival Hall, London<br/>Jurowski/OAE, Roundhouse, London

Spared some creaking old traditions, a bright new production of a Gilbert and Sullivan oddity comes up roses

Staatskapelle Berlin/ Barenboim, Royal Festival Hall, London

The defining moment in Daniel Barenboim’s unforgettable Beethoven/ Schoenberg experience came from hearing Schoenberg’s exquisitely epigrammatic Five Orchestral Pieces transcend period and style to form a bridge between Beethoven’s Second and Fourth Piano Concertos.

Staatskapelle Berlin / Barenboim, Royal Festival Hall, London

Daniel Barenboim has earned his adoration. He could stand on one leg and whistle “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” and still bring audiences to their feet.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Vanska, Royal Festival Hall, London

For a moment or two it seemed to be Wagner emerging from the chord of E-flat just as he did in Das Rheingold at the start of The Ring.

Mariza, Royal Festival Hall, London

Let's pretend, once again, that we are in Lisboa, in a small taverna," Mariza suggests, looking out at a Royal Festival Hall kept intentionally sepulchral tonight. She is the biggest global star that fado, the darkest and most soulful European music, has had, singing at Olympic Games ceremonies and single-handedly reviving its fortunes. But Mariza is also a purist; open to the international rhythms absorbed on her last album, Terra, but rooted in the traditional fado played at her father's taverna where she sang from the age of five.

Book Of A Lifetime: Letters, By Gustave Flaubert

I am, alas, to all intents and purposes, and to my eternal shame, an utterly uneducated, ignorant monoglot. I barely even speak English: I speak Essex. In my mind I sound like Daniel Barenboim delivering the Reith Lectures, or Garrison Keillor, rolling on with another Prairie Home Companion, or Seamus Heaney reciting, or Robin Lustig on the World Service, or WH Auden at the Royal Festival Hall sometime in the late 1960s. But when I speak, I sound like Joe Pasquale. I crush the language.

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