The first half was dominated by the personalities of the conductor and the soloist. Kristjan Järvi is the talented younger son of the Orchestra's conductor laureate. Lithe and ardent he moved from one front corner to the other on the new conductor's podium in gleeful control of the players in front of him, and when applause came too soon, of the audience too.
Bernstein's Overture and Suite from Candide comes from his Broadway musical of 1956. The Overture sets a rich and ornate scene but the work goes on to an exciting but hotchpotch of styles. At one point we are in the middle of a loud fairground with the noise of the amusement arcades all around. It was a lively opener that put every part of the orchestra to work.
An American GI in Germany immediately after the end of World War II, who was an oboe player, came across Strauss and asked him to write something for the oboe. He was turned down. But the seed had been sown and in February 1946 the Oboe Concerto was premiered in Zürich.
It was the performance of a lifetime from Emmanuel Laville, the Orchestra's principal oboe, playing Richard Strauss's Oboe Concerto. The three movements are played without a break and for twenty five minutes he was the master of his instrument, of the music and indeed of his colleagues in the orchestra. A solo debut to remember.
Johannes Brahms took many years to produce his Symphony No 1 because he was a fastidious composer. He also resented the high expectations of him as Beethoven's successor. But this symphony is sometimes called Beethoven's Tenth for some of its style and structure. Written in four movements, the finale picks up the "Ode to Joy" melody but without Beethoven's chorus.
The applause demonstrated the warmth and the enthusiasm of a well contented audience which had heard a first class concert from the RSNO, the second of its Friday nights this season now back at the Usher Hall.
Event: Friday 9 October 2009 7.30 pm, RSNO Friday nights throughout the winter. £5 for students, Under 16's free.