What a well-crafted programme – three major works in contrasting styles, but all supreme in clarity of musical thought and texture. And how skilfully the BSO delivered those qualities under Kirill Karabits.
In the third symphony by Sibelius, the Ukrainian conductor achieved physical excitement without compromising the coolness of the music's ground-breaking symphonic logic. He never rushed but generated such power that the three concluding chords had inevitability as well as finality.
Brass and flutes shone particularly here in a concert that showed the BSO still defying the departure of key players by attaining genuine international standards.
Debussy's La Mer, reflecting the ever-changing aspect of the sea, again showed the brass in full, controlled splendour. With shimmering harps and delicate woodwind inflections, the playing was well-characterised at every turn but also had the seamless fluidity the music demands.
Another Ukrainian, 26-year-old Alexander Gavrylyuk, was soloist in Grieg's piano concerto – and if at first he seemed to over-indulge the rhapsodising in the first movement, the diamond-sharp sensitivity of his tone colouring quickly became irresistible.
And afterwards he gave the most stunningly witty encore I have ever heard.