Iestyn Davies (centre) sings in ‘Farinelli and the King’, 2015
©Simon Annand

Sound of masculine top notes back in style

The countertenor range of the male voice was long considered weird, spooky, disturbingly androgynous

'Good Times' vinyl record

The Life of a Song: ‘Good Times’

Chic’s last-gasp salute to disco was inspired by the Great Depression and the Harlem Renaissance

Sharon D. Clarke in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'. Photo: Johan Persson
©Johan Persson

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, National Theatre (Lyttelton), London — ‘Pitch-perfect’

August Wilson’s play about music and race is superbly acted

Bavarian State Opera's 'South Pole'. Photo: Wilfried Hosl
©Wilfried Hosl

South Pole, Nationaltheater, Munich — ‘Vacuous, insipid’

Miroslav Srnka’s opera is an ill-judged expedition

The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge. Photo: Nick Rutter
©Nick Rutter

Green Mass, Royal Festival Hall, London — ‘From haunting to hideous’

Alexander Raskatov’s new work is ambitious but lacks coherence

Kate Lindsey, centre, in 'L'Étoile'. Photo: Bill Cooper
©Bill Cooper

L’Étoile, Royal Opera House, London — ‘Much to enjoy’

Chabrier’s opera is charming but something is lost in translation

'Anti' album cover

Rihanna: Anti

An attempt to break out of pop’s hit factory with the most expressive singing of the artist’s career

Simon Rattle and Magdalena Kožená at Wigmore Hall. Photo: Simon Jay Price
©Simon Jay Price

Magdalena Kožená, Wigmore Hall, London — ‘Delightful’

The singer was accompanied by her husband, Simon Rattle, on piano

Joe Locke with bassist Ricky Rodriguez at Pizza Express Jazz Club. Photo: Roger Thomas
©Roger Thomas

Joe Locke, Pizza Express Jazz Club, London — ‘Uplifting’

The US vibraphonist was intense and mesmerising

Jehnny Beth of Savages on stage at the Hippodrome, Kingston. Photo: Derek Bremner
©Derek Bremner

Savages, Hippodrome, Kingston upon Thames, UK — ‘Formidable, magnetising’

The all-female band gave an enjoyably ferocious performance

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, La Scala, Milan — ‘High-octane drama’

Handel’s oratorio is inventively staged and thrillingly played

The Life of a Song: ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’

The Nirvana tune whose idea germinated from a graffito has outlived the grunge era and been widely covered

Bloc Party, Electric Ballroom, London

The band debuted new material, with lyrics contrasting jaded states of hedonism and deeper pleasures

Renaissance for a victim of the financial crisis

The troubled history of New York’s second opera company and its uncertain future

LPO/Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall, London — ‘Ambitious’

Offerings included Shostakovich and rarely-heard Bruckner

The Viennese Salon, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London — ‘Intimacy’

The City of London Sinfonia got into its stride — eventually

Stilles Meer, Staatsoper Hamburg — ‘Laudable’

In terms of pure sound, Toshio Hosokawa’s new opera is a success

The Devil Inside, Theatre Royal, Glasgow — ‘Terminally restless’

This new opera is modest in size but grand in its themes

The Maccabees, Brixton Academy, London — ‘Slick but detached’

The band’s subtleties were smothered by the sound system

Tony Allen & Jimi Tenor, Café Oto, London — ‘Lacking momentum’

A gig marred by interruptions and underwhelming electronica

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