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.

London Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus/Nezet-Seguin, Royal Festival Hall, London

Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem should be mandatory for anyone (and there are many) who has ever uttered a disparaging or ill-considered word against its composer. Under the conspicuously talented Yannick Nezet-Seguin, it shone, it thundered, it inspired all-enveloping awe and consolation.

London Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus/ Nezet-Seguin, Royal Festival Hall, London

Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem should be mandatory for anyone (and there are many) who has ever uttered a disparaging or ill-considered word against its composer.

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jansons, Royal Festival Hall, London

After the sunset, a new dawn. There was a kind of poetic symmetry about the pairing of Strauss' Four Last Songs and Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe in the second half of this Mariss Jansons concert with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Straussian sunset was richly evoked in precisely the kind of dusky autumnal colours that are the signature of this splendid orchestra – and if Strauss imagined a dramatic yet lyric voice for his poignant valedictions in song then he had it all in Anja Harteros.

Lyle Lovett, Royal Festival Hall, London

Lyle Lovett has made his way in Hollywood and Nashville. But "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)" could be his keynote song during a more than two-hour show exploring his home state's most profound traditions. The four-piece band play bluegrass and Western Swing with classical precision. Lovett's deceptively strong voice can croon or croak, part of an equally precise yet elastic persona: sardonic, rowdy, undone or lost in reverie. His long, stone face recalls tragicomic Buster Keaton, and his songs hang suspended between shaggy dog tales and quiet desperation.

Sir Roger Norrington 75th-birthday concert, Royal Festival Hall, London

One might have expected a better turn-out for Sir Roger's 75th-birthday bash, especially since the highly eclectic programme – spanning some three centuries of music – contained a little bit of something for everyone. But maybe the Classic FM approach was unwise for an event of this kind, and maybe Norrington himself is still too much of a connoisseur's delight, too much of a maverick, ever to pull in the big crowds. And that's quite an irony, given that there are few more erudite, entertaining, communicative, or influential musicians on the planet. He is, in every sense, a one-off.

Sir Roger Norrington 75th Birthday Concert, Royal Festival Hall, London

One might have expected a better turn out for Sir Roger’s 75th birthday bash – especially since the highly eclectic programme – spanning some three centuries of music – contained a little bit of something for everyone.

Philharmonia Orchestra/Salonen, Royal Festival Hall, London

Arnold Schoenberg and Alexander Zemlinsky – pupil and teacher – reunited at the twilight's last gleaming of Romanticism. But where Schoenberg's masterpiece Verklärte Nacht was breathless with anticipation of new beginnings, Zemlinsky's rarely heard Lyric Symphony was going nowhere. If ever there was a concert of two halves, this was it.

Philharmonia Orchestra/ Salonen, Royal Festival Hall, London

Arnold Schoenberg and Alexander Zemlinsky – pupil and teacher – reunited at the twilight’s last gleaming of romanticism.

Schoenberg Gurrelieder, Philharmonia Orchestra/ Salonen, Royal Festival Hall

How fitting that the opening concert of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Philharmonia series “City of Dreams: Vienna 1900-1935” should conclude with the mightiest wake-up call in all music.

AX / Dudamel / Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, London

When a dynamic young musician suddenly emerges from the unlikeliest background and amid sensational publicity, standing ovations are liable to follow, whatever the quality of the actual performances.

Martynov Vita Nuova, Royal Festival Hall, London

How seriously can we take Vladimir Martynov's "anti-opera" Vita Nuova? Should we be laughing or crying at its conceit?

Philharmonia Orchestra/Mackerras, Royal Festival Hall, London

Elgar knew and enjoyed his Mozart with the rest of us but at the start of this well-balanced programme it was almost as if a little of his pomp and circumstance – or perhaps I should say “nobilmente” – had rubbed off on Sir Charles Mackerras’ account of Wolfgang Amadeus’ Overture in the Italian Style or Symphony No.32. By Sir Charles’ exacting standards it seemed overly well upholstered with four valve horns, double woodwind, and a large body of strings. But that, it seems, is precisely what Mozart ordered to reflect its festive nature.

Philharmonia Orchestra/ Mackerras, Royal Festival Hall



Elgar knew and enjoyed his Mozart with the rest of us but at the start of this well-balanced programme it was almost as if a little of his pomp and circumstance – or perhaps I should say “nobilmente” - had rubbed off on Sir Charles Mackerras’ account of Wolfgang Amadeus’ Overture in the Italian Style or Symphony No.32.

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