How fitting, then, that on this first evening, the orchestra were joined by old friends from the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus; by this year’s Artist in Residence, the delightful Alexander Malofeev, and by the brilliant Ukrainian string player Valeriy Sokolov.

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 ensured a dramatic and exciting opening to the evening. We have learned to expect faultless explosions of sound from Mr Malofeev, but no less impressive here was the romantic warmth wrung from Tchaikovsky’s more intimate, lyrical music. This was a performance full of fizzing youthful energy, and was followed by a delicate encore – the Sugar Plum Fairy from Nutcracker.

It is poignant to hear Kirill conducting his father’s music, and the choice of Concerto for Orchestra No 3 Lamentations was particularly apt, given the desperate struggle for independence now underway in Ukraine. Originally recalling the Stalin-famine and the Chernobyl disaster, this music served equally well as a comment on the present war. The BSO seemed to feel this and to inject a special force and feeling into their playing. The sound-world created was magical and entrancing.

After the interval, a modern classic, Styx by Giya Kancheli, made another comment on human experience. Inspired by the deaths of Avet Terterian and Alfred Schnittke (both composers whose music we have come to know here in Poole) this work seems an accompaniment to a lonely voyage to the next world across the river. This was a journey charted by the heartfelt solo viola of Mr Sokolov, and watched over by a crowd of grieving onlookers, represented in the chorus’s meditations and protests. The result was a hauntingly lovely, if exhausting, thirty minutes of wonderfully integrated music making, held together by the magnetic conducting of Mr Karabits.

Some fun to conclude this special evening was provided by the Lyapunov orchestration of Mily Balakirev’s Islamey. This is a ten-minute workout, designed to demonstrate the BSO as a brilliant ensemble, to give its section principals chances to showcase their instruments and then to send the audience home on a cheering high. It triumphed on all counts.

The evening provided a fascinating, challenging programme, played and sung with verve by supreme musicians. It was certainly one of the most engaging, entertaining and moving concerts presented by the BSO in recent times. Really just jaw-droppingly good. I can’t think where you would hear better.

BSO member and proud supporter Tom Wickson 

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