Arts and Entertainment

Barbican, London

Album: John Wilson, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Made in Britain (Avie)

John Wilson is probably best known for his light-entertainment orchestral work, especially his restorations of classic film scores – a background which, it turns out, equips him well for this anthology of British musical landscapes.

Album: Hayley Westerna, Ennio Morricone, Paradiso (Decca)

The soprano Hayley Westenra is the supreme "crossover classical" artist, her album Pure being the fastest-selling classical debut of all time.

Artie Shaw, By Tom Nolan

Outside the jazz fraternity, the electrifying clarinetist is best-known for his short-lived marriage to Ava Gardner. He explained the bust-up with a joke about a man telling his wife why he couldn't make love ("I can't think of anyone tonight"').

Album: Beethoven, Fidelio Abbado / Stemme / Kaufmann / LFO (Decca)

Recorded live at last year's Lucerne Festival, Claudio Abbado's Fidelio is as compelling as it is beautiful.

Album: Heinz Hilliger, Induuchlen (ECM New Series)

Induuchlen demonstrates a different side of Heinz Holliger to the virtuoso interpretations of Bach on the recently-released Konzerte Und Sinfonien Für Oboe.

Album: Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest, Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest (Atlantic Jaxx)

The crossover territory between classical, jazz and pop has remained largely uninhabited since the era when prog-rockers strove to assert their musical chops with ill-advised symphonic works and temporary alliances with classical musicians who sometimes – as Frank Zappa learnt to his dismay – regarded the commission with a disrespect bordering on contempt.

Album: Heinz Holliger, JS Bach: Konzerte und Sinfonien Für Oboe (ECM New Series)

J S Bach used the oboe to originally voice many of the most famous instrumental passages in his cantatas and orchestral works, but these origins were all too often obscured by his later revisions of these pieces for other instruments – a process reversed here by Heinz Holliger in a pair of exquisite oboe Sinfonia culled from a cantata and the Easter Oratorio, both reconstituted for a small string ensemble and harpsichord supporting the oboe.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Pires/ Haitink, Barbican Hall

Her appearances in this country are rare enough as it is so to discover that Maria Joao Pires was to be a late substitute (for the indisposed Murray Perahia) was precious consolation indeed.

Album: Stephen Goss, Northern Lights (FMR)

Rendered here in woodwind tones and acoustic guitar, the ambient landscape compositions of Stephen Goss exist in the grey area where ECM chamber-jazz and Hathut minimalism shades into Windham Hill new-ageism.

Album: Sigyn Birkeland, Frost: Parapraxis, Bassoon Concerto; Karlsen: Serenata (Signum Classics)

Sigyn Birkeland has put together an intriguing programme of modern bassoon pieces.

Album: Tansy Davies, Troubairitz (Nonclassical)

The full range of Tansy Davies's varied modernist interests is displayed on Troubairitz, from the title suite itself, a song-cycle based on 19th-century poems by women troubadours, sung here either a cappella or with minimal accompaniment by Anna Snow, to the more animated pieces such as "Inside Out 2", a brittle bricolage of pizzicato and percussion sounds, and "Grind Show", a musical evocation of a typically bleak, disturbing Goya painting, Pilgrimage of St Isadore, picked out in stalking piano, pizzicato and woodwind.

Pelleas et Melisande, Barbican

Strip away the colour from Debussy’s great music-drama, and the plot you are left with has a bourgeois banality: a marital deception, culminating in the cuckold slaying his rival, and his wife dying of shock in childbirth.

Album: Lunar Saxophone Quartet, Flux (Signum Classics)

Given the instrument's historical context, the Lunar Saxophone Quartet operate where classical shades into jazz.

Album: Schubert, Fibonacci Sequence (Deux-Elles)

Composed in 1824 between Death and the Maiden and the Ninth Symphony, the Octet, scored for string quartet plus clarinet, bassoon, horn and double bass, is a leisurely and sunny respite between demanding monoliths.

Album: Marianne Faithfull, Horses and High Heels (Dramatico/Naïve)

For this latest of their collaborations, producer Hal Willner has surrounded Marianne Faithfull with some great New Orleans musicians, and got her covering a few Crescent City soul numbers. But it's not territory she occupies comfortably: she doesn't have the abandon to animate Joe & Ann's "Gee Baby", and her delivery of Allen Toussaint's "Back in Baby's Arms" is painfully stilted. She's much better reciting the Shangri-Las' "Past, Present and Future" over a melodramatic arrangement of harp, strings and woodwind, and her "Goin' Back" has an arthritic grace that suits the song well. Of her own material, the title-track comprises observations from her Irish and Parisian homes, while "Eternity" finds her trying to "live within the space that's moving all the time... touching the divine", over a blend of Doobie-esque rhythm guitar and sampled Jojouka reeds.

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Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
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