In the event, it came as a surprise to encounter a Mozart concerto performance with the soloist claiming the spotlight throughout, stylistically foreshadowing Beethoven in bullish Sturm und Drang high Romantic mode, more as a combatant rather than an equal partner. Where was the genial interplay of ensemble offered with such sublime and consistent relish by the composer in this particular work? The development of authentic classical performance practice researched over the last decades seemed disenfranchised. More classically refined lyricism and interplay from the orchestra restored some balance, especially from the ever-eloquent wind section, but sadly for me, the ships in this performance passed in the night. Audience enthusiasm however told a different story, so let’s move on to Bruckner.

Performance energy beamed and probed at its brightest in the composer’s Fifth Symphony, an Everest in the cycle consummately conquered here. Pacing, clarity, dynamic contrast and the management of silence during Bruckner’s signature pauses between the huge structural paragraphs of each movement cumulatively built to a double fugue and closing chorale that proclaimed Bruckner’s faith. Lighthouse lived up to its name as the roof was raised ever higher to The Power and the Glory.

There have been so many special performances from Kirill and BSO over the years, but this Bruckner was transcendental and inspirational to a degree rarely encountered. My partner attending the concert with me is a singer, who much admires Bruckner’s choral music, but has never been to a performance of the symphonies. He was totally blown away at the end of the performance, but managed to identify how the opening of the scherzo is a speeded up version of the slow introduction of the preceding slow movement, as well as one of the brass chorales being a dead ringer of the Commendatore’s summoning of Don Giovanni at his last supper in Mozart’s opera. More Bruckner exploration beckons. What greater vindication for the unique power of top quality live performance to carry the flame forward?

Critic Ian Julier

To catch up on the digital concert click here (available until 13 April)