Arts and Entertainment

Fires Of Love, "Remember Me My Deir" (Delphian)

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Alsop, Royal Festival Hall, London

The platform is empty as the conductor, Marin Alsop, enters with four flutes who then proceed to sit in silence as the first downbeat of the evening produces barely audible but blissfully consonant string chords from celestially far off.

Album: Beethoven, Symphony No 9 (Naive)

Recorded in Grenoble, Vichy and Paris, Emanuel Krivine's Beethoven dazzles with closely mic-ed details. La Chambre Philharmonique's bassoons are the unlikely stars, jostled out of the way by heaven-sent strings in the Adagio, and an almost comically hyperactive contrabassoon in the finale. Les Eléments deliver a lithe, moving account of Goethe's Ode, with a suave introduction from bass soloist Konstantin Wolff.Too much technical trickery to be properly "live", perhaps. But what a refreshing, bold reading.

The Life and Times of the Great Composers, By Michael Steen

Does it assist our appreciation of Bruckner's Seventh Symphony to learn that the composer was obsessed with both numbers (he would count "windows, weather cocks, church crosses, buttons") and dead bodies? Does it enhance Mahler's Eighth Symphony when we know that the composer's "idea of a cosy evening" was to get his "highly sexed and active" wife Alma to report on astronomy lectures he had asked her to attend?

David Lister: Go on, campaign on culture, Mr Brown

Recently I was invited in to 10 Downing Street to discuss arts policy. It was nice to be the first arts writer to have this invitation extended in the run-up to the election.

Rattle and LSO join forces

Sir Simon Rattle, chief conductor and artistic director of the Berliner Philharmoniker since September 2002, will collaborate with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) at the Barbican for the first time in 10 years, when he returns to conduct Messiaen's Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum and Bruckner's Symphony No 9 in March 2011.

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.

Leading article: Tweet symphony

"What's happening?" asks Twitter. But did the inventors of the micro-blogging site ever expect someone to answer: "I am presently being held up by a gang of armed robbers"? Because that appears to have been the answer, more or less, from a number of people caught up in a raid on a poker tournament in Berlin at the weekend.

Golden dream becomes Virtue reality

Canadian best friends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had the home fans leaping to their feet after ending 34 years of European domination to win the Olympic ice dance gold medal on Monday night.

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.

Observations: Suk's Angel of Death is not for the faint-hearted

The Asrael Symphony by Josef Suk is no piece for the faint-hearted. In fact, it could be the most hyper-emotional piece of classical music you will ever encounter. It's one of those late romantic, larger-than-life creations to which devotees of unusual repertoire flock in droves when – or if – the chance arises. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Asrael was performed in the UK once in a blue moon. Yet in Suk's native Czech Republic, this symphony is rather like Elgar's "Nimrod" in Britain, a national musical icon wheeled out on significant state occasions. Its outing tomorrow with the London Philharmonic and its principal conductor Vladimir Jurowski is the centrepiece of the UK's Czech Festival. In 1904, the prodigiously gifted Suk, aged 30, began to write his Symphony No 2, subtitled "Asrael" (the Angel of Death), in direct response to the death of his father-in-law and former teacher, Antoní*Dvorák. But within two months, when he had completed three of the five movements, his wife, Dvorák's daughter Otilka, also died.

Album: Brahms, Symphonies 1 and 2 – LPO/Jurowski (LPO)

Performance style in Brahms has lately become as hotly contested an issue as it once was in Bach, with Mackerras arguing for impetuous speed changes and Gardiner so busy identifying thematic strata that the topography is blurred.

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Jurowski, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Beethoven rules again at the South Bank. It’s been ten years since the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment embarked upon its first complete cycle of Beethoven Symphonies but it was long before that that we first began to understand what it meant to hear these audacious pieces played on instruments of the period.

Album: Paavo Järvi, Beethoven: Symphony No 9 (RCA Red Seal)

In some interpretations of Beethoven's 9th, it can seem like three lengthy preambles to the Greatest Tune Ever Written, a sustained bout of deferred gratification; but not in this latest performance by Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie.

Scottish Chamber Orchestar/Ticciati, City Halls, Glasgow

Robin Ticciati is already a hot ticket. At just 26, the music director of Glyndebourne's touring arm and principal guest conductor-elect of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra has added another string to his bow, taking up his position as principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Album: Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Haydn: The Complete Symphonies (Sony Classical)

Even allowing for the much shorter duration of symphonies in Haydn's day – his Symphony No. 2 is at 10 minutes a model of elegant brevity – his output of over 100 symphonies, compiled here across 37 CDs, was a colossal undertaking which established the key elements of future symphonic composition. Recorded over the past 11 years, this complete edition by the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies is of equivalent standard to Haydn's achievement, a remarkable body of work in which it's possible to get happily lost for days.

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