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London Symphony Orchestra, Usher Hall

Inside the packed Usher Hall, we sat in expectancy of the concert that was to unfold – or rather explode – on the stage below.

These were big names on this programme: the LSO, Valery Gergiev and Nicola Benedetti. The stage was set.

This was the first of four Edinburgh Festival concerts by the LSO, filled with the music of Szymanowski and Brahms. The two complemented each other nicely: the dark and dangerous world of Szymanowski and the stately, powerful yet solemn Brahms.

The menacing and crisp opening of Szymanowski's first symphony rocked between wild passages and more mournful solos from strings and woodwind. The movement ended, however, in a raging fury from the whole orchestra, with a bang, then a final quiet chord, leaving the fury hanging.

The concert continued with Szymanowski's first violin concerto. This was the piece with which Nicola Benedetti won the BBC Young Musician of the Year award in 2004, and she played it with spectacular energy and emotion. In the dramatic cadenza she brought out sounds in the lower register of her violin that I had never heard before. It sounded almost demonic but the concerto ended with a hopeful, pleasing tune.

After the interval, Gergiev swept straight onto the stage and started Brahms's first symphony instantaneously. He had full control over the piece and his wild movements were always reflected faithfully by the orchestra.

The encore, Brahms's Hungarian Dance No 5, was a delightful and entertaining way to end such a memorable concert.

Malcolm Goodare is at Broughton High School in Edinburgh and this review was selected from those submitted by Broughton pupils as part of The Herald Young Critics project with Edinburgh International Festival.

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