Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Little needs saying about the first half of the final Portsmouth concert in the BSO’s season. It was as excellent as always seemed likely.

After all, principal conductor Kirill Karabits has already recorded Khachaturian’s Spartacus music to great acclaim, and the only sadness was that his selection here did not include the whirling Sabre Dance.

And Nikolai Lugansky is an acknowledged master of Rachmaninov’s music, so there was no surprise in his blend of control, cascading brilliance and emotional depth in the second piano concerto.

What was in doubt was whether the Ukrainian Karabits could tap into the world of Englishman William Walton’s first symphony. The answer is he could – and how!

He built relentlessly towards the climax of the first movement without making it sound laboured, and encompassed not only the malice of the scherzo but the melancholy of the slow movement, where woodwind soloists achieved stunning eloquence.

And the finale, with brass and timpani taking their turns to shine, had devastating impact, with the strings showing finesse in announcing the fugue before other sections took it up with relish and skill.

Bravo BSO, bravo Karabits!

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