Recalling scenes from the life of the composer's one-legged taxidermist great-uncle, Simon Holt's A Table of Noises is an important addition to the small repertoire of percussion concertos.
A co-commission from the CBSO and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust for the award-winning young percussionist Colin Currie, it is structured in six main episodes, quirkily titled, separated by five short, subdued interludes each scored for a different combination of instruments from within a generally low-timbred orchestra.
An exception from this tessitura is the use of a pair of shrieking piccolos, ranged high up on either side of the orchestra, and spectacular in effect. Stage logistics, however, mean that Holt's intended visual spectacle of having all the percussion instruments on a table-top has had to be sacrificed.
The solo part is virtuosic, but never flashily so, commentating upon and shading each memory of this anecdotal character, and eventually moving to a cadenza where, though the rhythms are notated, the choice of instruments is left to the soloist.
Its premiere from Currie was fluent and assured, the complexities memorised and encompassed with impressive confidence. And under Martyn Brabbins the CBSO reminded us once again just how adept it is in mastering new scores on probably very little rehearsal.
The CBSO's vibrant, energetic response to two demanding Russian show-pieces (Rimsky-Korsakov's somewhat tedious Golden Cockerel Suite, its splashes of garish colour eventually neutralising each other, and Rachmaninov's splendidly taut Symphonic Dances) showed no signs that all the excitements of a very long season are proving a drain. * Broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on June 6. Christopher Morley