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My ears are primed for "Beethoven's dud"

Almost inevitably, there's a bit of a wrap-up flavour to today's column.

When Peter Oundjian conducts the RSNO tonight in the Glasgow performance of Mahler's vast Eighth Symphony, that will be the end of the RSNO's autumn/winter concert season. The other orchestras are all well-finished their own mainstream winter seasons, Runnicles and the BBC SSO having gone out with Mahler Nine and the SCO having taken down its 40th birthday bunting after a memorable brace of concerto performances from the highly individual pianist Piotr Anderszewski, while the Scottish Ensemble, set to announce its new season in 10 days, swept out of its winter season concerts with a blazing, buccaneering performance of Bach's Double Concerto in which Jonathan Morton teamed up with folk fiddler extraordinaire Chris Stout in what had all the feeling of a jam session.

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So, as they all headed off to get ready for wee summer tours, specialist events such as the SSO's Elliot Carter focus this week, Royal Albert Hall or festival appearances in Orkney, Aldeburgh, Edinburgh or wherever, what next for us, the listeners? A short pause?

Not a chance. The Perth Festival is up and running this week. And the Fair City's own festival of keyboard music, Perth Piano Sundays, launched last October by Steven Osborne, still has one event to come on June 15: and what an event, featuring the young Russian wizard Denis Kozhukhin, adored in Scotland since his astonishing Prokofiev Piano Concerto series with the SSO and subsequent appearances. Meanwhile, of course, next weekend the west end of Glasgow will begin to pulse from the wall-to-wall concerts in the two- week Cottier Chamber Project.

Before that unfolds, however, and just in case it has escaped the attention of music lovers who have gone into the summer blues (one of them said to me, only half-jokingly, at the closing SCO concert: "What do we do for the next four months?") there is one almighty orchestral blockbuster yet to come, and that is a single appearance at the Usher Hall on Wednesday, June 4 at 7.30pm of the London Symphony Orchestra. It's an all-Beethoven night, with the Prometheus Overture at one end, and the Eroica Symphony at the other. But it's what's in the middle that's particularly interesting.

The LSO will be directed for the night by the great, and totally individualistic, Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, who will have his fiddle with him. And at the centre of the programme, Kavakos will be joined by LSO cellist (and soloist in his own right) Tim Hugh and Italian pianist Enrico Pace (a long-time chamber music partner of Kavakos) in a relatively rare performance of Beethoven's Triple Concerto.

This piece, almost exclusively in Beethoven's vast output, has been felt to be Beethoven's one real dud. I've heard it described as "Beethoven's only washout" and "a near-unique example of Beethoven firing blanks". And these were ardent Beethovenians in pub talk. It's not heaven-storming, you see; and it's certainly not epochal, unlike its symphonic neighbour in the LSO programme.

But I have liked and enjoyed this piece since I discovered it in my great immersion period with Beethoven when I was a lad. I knew it was on the lighter side. I knew instinctively that it wasn't really part of the revolution into which Beethoven was hauling classical-period symphonic, chamber and instrumental music. And, probably importantly, given my age at the time, nobody had yet told me it was a dud. So I made up my own mind. I won't pretend that it overwhelmed me in the way that the symphonies and the big, single-instrument concertos were doing at the time, but I found it sparkling and entertaining, with its first movement in particular bursting with vigour at the exchanges and partnerships between the three soloists. I can't wait to hear it live, and hope to be exhilarated by half time and before the mind-blowing force of the revolutionary Eroica erupts in the second half, battering through the exit door of medium-scale symphonic writing.

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