Glinka's sparkling overture Russlan and Ludmilla was a fitting introduction for this enormous orchestra.
Fast and furious, but initially lacking in true clarity, needing more bite from woodwind interjections and crucial timpani. However, cellos helped settle the orchestra with lovely phrasing.
Conductor Takuo Yuasa bravely retained full strings for Elgar's Cello Concerto, not at any time overshadowing superlative soloist Quirine Viersen. After the solemn and challenging introduction, solo cello dominates the scene throughout. Immaculate bustling spiccato followed breathtaking pianissimos both from soloist and accompanying orchestra.
The 1715 Guarnerius cello was a joy, a perfection of luscious tone which was never allowed to stray into sentimentality. Accompaniment was of the highest quality, particularly in tricky recitative-style sections.
Shostakovich described his blockbuster Tenth Symphony as a " tombstone", a work of "optimistic tragedy".
In spite of massive forces (anchored by twelve bases), the balance throughout was carefully crafted, as maestro Yuasa paced the music brilliantly, from a mere whisper to screaming tutti orchestra with brass in full cry.
His clear direction encouraged some very fine solo playing throughout, but none more than principal clarinet who took the lion's share with aplomb and great musicality.
This performance was full of character from seething waspish moto perpetuo passages in the second movement, to faultless horn and lugubrious solo from leader Rowan Bell.
Sadly the mysterious gong part was mostly inaudible and massed pizzicato strings were occasionally too quiet for the actual harmonies supporting solo woodwind passages.
Nevertheless, future professional music will be assured with these fine young players.