Classical home listening: Joshua Bell and a Mahler must-have

• In a 30-year career bristling with awards and success as a soloist on the world’s most illustrious stages, the American violinist Joshua Bell has always kept time for intimate music-making. On his latest album, companion to a PBS broadcast in the US, he performs with friends – Jeremy Denk, Peter Dugan and Kamal Khan – and his wife, the soprano Larisa Martínez. Joshua Bell: At Home With Music (Sony) contains eight short tracks, from Dvořák (arr Kreisler) to Gershwin (arr Heifetz), via Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Wieniawski and Bernstein. The choice is personal and idiosyncratic, the mood salon-style music of the highest quality, impeccably performed by Bell on his 1713 “Huberman” Stradivarius.

He and pianist Jeremy Denk play only the opening movement of Beethoven’s “Spring” sonata, but it’s enough to hint at the work’s serenity, drama and scale. You might wish for the whole sonata, but that thought is banished by the quick shift into Dvořák’s wistful Slavonic Fantasy in B minor (with Peter Dugan). Martinez is properly coquettish in Musetta’s aria from Puccini’s La bohème (arr. Kohn), with Bell revelling in the violin line’s twists and meanders. His virtuosity is on display in Wieniawski’s showpiece Polonaise de Concert, Op 4, every harmonic and trill lovingly placed.

• Here’s a must-have for Mahler fans: Das Lied von Der Erde, performed by the Budapest Festival Orchestra, with Gerhild Romberger (contralto) and Robert Dean Smith (tenor), conducted by Iván Fischer (Channel Classics). Fischer began his cycle of Mahler symphonies with his own Budapest players 15 years ago. This hour-long work, a visionary fusion of song and symphony, completes the project. The six orchestral lieder, exploring hedonism, youth and beauty, loneliness and a farewell to life, demand absolute conviction and stamina from every quarter.

The BFO’s playing makes this a standout performance. It’s fresh and irrepressible, woodwind reedy and nasal, horns bright and heroic, strings brilliant, with the final “Der Abschied” a half-hour’s music of draining intensity. Of the tens of recordings available, with every great singer, from Christa Ludwig to Janet Baker to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau or, performing both vocal parts, Jonas Kaufmann, Mahlerians will have their favourites. Romberger and Smith are powerful and expressive. Look out, too, for the new recording on Pentatone by the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, also with Smith and, exceptional in this repertoire, Sarah Connolly.

• Inspired by the lives of single mums, BBC Four’s Opera Mums with Bryony Kimmings (BBC iPlayer) exposes home truths and prejudice and ends with a skilful mini-opera by performance artist Kimmings and the composer Vahan Salorian.