There is always a frisson of excitement when the Russians hit town, the St Petersburg Philharmonic being no exception, offering a feast of 20th century Russian classics.
Full-blown romanticism began gradually with Rachmaninov's hauntingly familiar Vocalise. Restrained muted strings filled the hall with lovely rounded sound, the rich dark phrases eventually daring to die away to a mere whisper.
Pianist Denis Matsuev joined with orchestra and Yuri Temirkanov for Rachmaninov's Concerto no. 3 in D minor. Swimming sweetly above veiled turbulent waters, this assured artist soon emerged to overpower lesser mortals.
Essential interaction between orchestra and soloist was occasionally obscured by a formidable technique of sparkling repeated notes, hammered octaves and torrential fortissimo cascades of terrifying proportions.
A delirious audience was further treated to a spectacular transcription of Largo al Factotum by Ginzburg.
An unemotional, cool delivery of unison strings in the opening of Symphony No 5 by Shostakovitch led the way to astringent woodwind and solid brass. Leader Lev Klychkov was a key figure for togetherness during Temirkanov's more wayward maestro moments however.
The seemingly tired orchestra appeared to be mainly on automatic pilot in this oftenperformed, accurate party piece. Not acerbic enough, no scary edginess, and gutless timpani contributed to a mainly featureless performance with wind band plodding and nothing substantial saved for that terrifying final outburst.