Royal Scottish National Orchestra Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
This all-Russian programme was a reminder as to just how brilliantly the RSNO play this repertoire. Under the dynamic baton of Andrey Borekyo, this expertise was unleashed to great effect in works by composers who are also superb orchestrators.
Anatoly Lyadov's output may be small but nevertheless The Enchanted Lake impressed with its filigree textures, the occasional sinister drumbeats hinting at some unseen menace. An errant pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyadov taught Prokofiev who wrote the variations at the heart of his Piano Concerto No.3 in C major Op 26 before he left Russia.
Soloist Alexander Gavrylyuk gave an intelligent and stylish reading of this unconventional concerto where the pianist's contributions are largely part of the overall orchestral texture. However, Gavrylyuk knew precisely when to sparkle, delivering zippy glissandi in the variations and beautifully capturing the clownish character of the quirky first movement.
Tchaikovsky's Pathetique symphony in B minor, Op 76, his sixth and last, is profoundly poignant, veering between moments of extreme elation and utter despair. Borekyo, who has the rare ability to know when to let the orchestra just play, sensitively explored every emotional nuance.
This was a masterful performance with the strings providing a lush, rock-solid sound for the vivid colours of the woodwind and brass to dance with.