Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

Boris Giltburg. Picture by Sasha Gusov

Celebrate the Triumph and Passion with the BSO at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Too many routine performances had made me grow tired of Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto – but not any more.

From bracing horns at the start to thunderous double octaves in the sprint to the finish, this was electric from replacement soloist Kirill Gerstein and the BSO under principal conductor Kirill Karabits.

This was a performance full of temperament, with teasing phrasing giving way to surges of power, creating a sense of mercurial, on-the-wing rhapsodising from both soloist and orchestra.

The concerto was the centrepiece of a programme in which all three works had links with the conductor’s Ukrainian homeland.

Janacek’s Taras Bulba was played with character, colour and commitment, which together gave it a powerful cohesion over-riding tiny lapses of ensemble and balance.

Tchaikovsky’s second symphony ended the programme, with Karabits doing well to give light and shade to a rhythmically and melodically repetitive score – notably in his shaping of the finale’s second theme.

But he left the first horn to do his own thing in his first-movement solo, and that faith was amply justified.

The BSO will be back at the Guildhall on June 16 to open the Portsmouth Festivities with a programme entitled Galactic Classics.