Arts and Entertainment

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Imogen Cooper’s coolly reflective reading of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto was at odds with the more extrovert approach of the Budapest Festival Orchestra under its conductor Ivan Fischer

Classical review: Budapest Festival Orchestra - Bohemian rhapsody marred by clash of styles

In 2011, Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra played two BBC Proms in one night. The first was a meticulously disciplined programme of Liszt and Mahler, the second a jamboree of party pieces and encores, selected by raffle from a list of some 200 works. Encores are the great disinhibitors of classical music and they have served Fischer and his orchestra well. Now 30 years old, the BFO can melt the cognoscenti with musical kitsch, compete with the finest in core symphonic repertoire, and deliver Beethoven with the transparency of period instruments. Whether this should all be attempted in one performance is another matter.

Album: Various artists, Liberation Music (BGP)

Louis Armstrong singing spiritual-jazz anthem "The Creator Has a Masterplan" (and sounding great) is one of the more bizarre experiences on this neat compendium of black consciousness from the vaults of Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman label.

James MacMillan, Magnificat (Challenge Classics)

Album review: James MacMillan, Magnificat (Challenge Classics)

The second volume of James MacMillan's projected four-album series for Challenge finds him conducting the Netherlands Chamber Philharmonic and Netherlands Radio Choir on the premiere of his Advent antiphon “Ó”, in which lowering strings shade treble choral harmonies either side of a central solo trumpet passage, its divine nobility haloed by the choir's extended “O”.

Storm in a teacup: The Flying Dutchman

Classical review: The Flying Dutchman - Love among the sewing machines and sarnies

A perpetual voyager is saved by selflessness and a terrific chorus

Album: Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, Je voy le bon tens venir (Alpha)

Early woodwind virtuoso François Lazarevitch, Les Musiciens and the earthy-toned singers Simone Sorini, Enea Sorini and Marc Busnel take us back to the time when street parties lasted a week or more.

George Benjamin Day conducting

George Benjamin Day, Wigmore Hall, London

Ethnomusicologists are like bees, with melodies being the pollen they transfer from culture to culture. In the 1950s the great American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax went on a song-collecting trip to Italy, and brought back recordings of a wealth of music which is now mostly extinct.

They Might Be Giants, Nanobots (Lojinx)

Album review: They Might Be Giants, Nanobots (Lojinx)

Over three decades as They Might Be Giants, the Brooklyn duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell have developed into a sort of post-modern Flanders & Swann, crafting sharp, witty and entertaining little satires on contemporary mores, set to a dizzying range of styles chosen for humorous emphasis.

Album: Stravinsky, Le Sacre de Printemps - Berliner Philarmoniker/Rattle (EMI)

Stravinsky's 1913 ballet, The Rite of Spring, premiered to catcalls and fisticuffs.

Charles Ives, A Songbook (hat(now)ART)

Album review: Charles Ives, A Songbook (hat(now)ART)

As with his larger musical works, Charles Ives' songs occupy a peculiar position that offers a bridge between Old World classical art-song traditions and the more demotic, folksy New World modes, but charged with the questing experimental spirit that characterises his entire output.

Love and war: Ronald Samm and Elena Kelessidi as Otello and Desdemona

Classical review: Otello - Race plays second fiddle to suspicion

This Otello is pitifully vulnerable to the lies that will destroy him. But something's wrong when the orchestra steals the show

Album review: Tugan Sokhiev, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Stravinsky: The Firebird, The Rite of Spring (Naïve)

Scandalous in its early performances, the stylised primitivism of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring can these days sound merely rumbustious – unless attacked with the youthful gusto of a Dudamel, whose 2010 interpretation with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra restored some of its pagan spirit.

IoS album review: Debussy, La Mer etc – Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos van Immerseel (Zig-zag Territoires)

Jos van Immerseel and Anima Eterna Brugge explore the timbres of the Parisian orchestra on the cusp of the 20th century in this absorbing period-instruments performance of three of Debussy’s most famous works.

Hot Chip, Brixton Academy, London

Anyone still ready to dismiss Hot Chip as geeks or middle-class ironists would be disabused of that notion as soon as the south London five-piece appear.

Jeffrey Stewart and Robert Winslade-Anderson in 'The Emperor of Atlantis'

The Emperor of Atlantis/ Albert Herring, Linbury Studio, London
Tosca, King's Head Theatre, London

From within the death camp, a picaresque story of redemptive love

Album: The Feldman Soloists, Crippled Symmetry: at June In Buffalo (Frozen Reeds)

Performed by Morton Feldman's original ensemble at a posthumous celebration of his work held at the 2000 season of June in Buffalo – the annual new-music festival he established in 1975 – this version of his classic "Crippled Symmetry" perfectly captures the poise at the heart of his music.

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