The devilish trick for conductors of the Symphonie Fantastique is to have it under tight control, but make it sound as if the music is being invented on the wing.
Here the BSO’s playing of Berlioz’s score for Alexander Vedernikov was almost entirely of the highest order, with bold French colours, surging strings, exquisite woodwind, cutting brass and a grand ball that whirled fantastically indeed at its height.
Yet the conductor seemed at times a little too much in command, attending well to Berlioz’s classical instincts but not quite releasing the romantic demon in him.
The programme’s other main work was Scriabin’s Piano Concerto, which seems to hover between Chopin and Rachmaninov without quite matching the melodic flair of either.
But pianist Yevgeny Sudbin is clearly in tune with the composer and caught his bold colours and delicacy effectively, with the BSO strings shifting smoothly into surging, expansive expressiveness.
In Mussorgsky’s A Night On The Bare Mountain, violins gave a convincing impression of witches flying on broomsticks – and clarinet and flute soloists were glorious in heralding the dawn.