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.

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.

Philharmonia Orchestra/ Mackerras, Royal Festival Hall, London

Bleeding chunks or prime cuts? Either way, there’s something deeply dissatisfying, even pointless, about an evening of Wagner highlights.

Haydn The Creation, OAE/ Elder, Royal Festival Hall, London

Haydn’s The Creation begins with a big bang – the big bang, presumably – and if you’re looking to top Handel’s Messiah, as Haydn was, then it was the only place and the only way to start.

Great composer, shame he couldn't play

Letter uncovered in museum reveals how Edward Elgar was so bad at the trombone it made people laugh

Rachid Taha, Royal Festival Hall, London

You can only imagine Rachid Taha's reaction if he were to know that his early career as a DJ mixing Western and Eastern records in a Parisian nightclub in the 70s would lead him eventually to the throbbing makeshift dancefloor of the Royal Festival Hall's first two rows three decades later. It would probably be a cause of some jubilation for a man who's prided himself on his ability to cross geographical and stylistic boundaries.

Bryn Terfel: Bad Boys, Royal Festival Hall, London

Bryn Terfel arrived in the capital armed with countless sneers and as many ways to make mischief. His latest album, Bad Boys – a comprehensive gallery of operatic rogues and villains – was now a tour, and there was a big, glossy, souvenir programme to prove it.

Angela Gheorghiu/Marius Manea/Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall

For anyone wondering what on earth the Overture to Leonard Bernstein's Candide was doing at the start of this bizarre, rag-bag of an evening (there seemed to be no rhyme or reason for its presence) might I suggest that the inference may have been that "in the best of all possible worlds" (to quote Voltaire) Angela Gheorghiu would have been singing more than two (yes, two) arias in the official programme with two more tired old chestnuts added as encores.

Steve Martin with The Steep Canyon Rangers, Royal Festival Hall, London

Rich pickings for comedy and bluegrass fans alike

The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess, Cape Town Opera, Royal Festival Hall, London

After Trevor Nunn’s futile attempt to turn The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess into a book and song musical how bracing to return to the through-sung original where only the whites get to speak – or rather are denied the gift of song.

Spiritualized, Royal Festival Hall, London

The first edition of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space came in a mock-up packet of pills: the slim cardboard box contained a leaflet of instructions and a plastic tray covered in foil that you had to break open to reveal the CD itself, which looked like a giant aspirin. It was a beautiful piece of design, but for the fact that, once you returned it to the box after its first few plays, the CD rattled around so freely in there that it quickly became scratched, rendering around half of the tracks unplayable.

Album: Keith Jarrett, Paris/London: Testament (ECM)

Last December's Royal Festival Hall concert by Keith Jarrett was marked by a higher than usual level of agitation which, the pianist reveals in his sleevenote to this 3CD set, was partly due to his emotional state at the time: recently separated from his wife for the third time in four years, he found the Christmas preparations of couples in London too much to bear.

Handel Remixed, Barbican Hall, London<br/>The Bernstein Project, Royal Festival Hall, London<br/>The Damnation of Faust, Barbican Hall, London

Take five composers, think 'bland and commercial', cut and paste a few bars, and call it an anniversary tribute? How depressing

Waterson Family & The Eliza Carthy Band, Royal Festival Hall, London

The family that plays together...

Magazine, Royal Festival Hall, London

As Paul Smith of Maximo Park recently explained on the pages of The Independent, decay is all around in the world of the post-punk icon and Magazine frontman Howard Devoto. Having ended a 28-year hiatus to regroup this year for a partial comeback, after Devoto spent much of the interim managing the archives of a photography agency, ageing was obviously in evidence at tonight's performance; but luckily the band's material sounded as bold and revolutionary as ever.

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