London Symphony Orchestra

London Symphony Orchestra

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

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Michael Tumelty

LIFE just gets better. At the end of the London Symphony Orchestra's Usher Hall concert on Wednesday, a chum, sitting along the row from me, looked round and the two of us were just grinning inanely. Not one word needed to be uttered to express the amazement that, clearly, we both felt at the sheer class we had just witnessed in a series of astonishing performances from the LSO in its all-Beethoven concert in Edinburgh.

We've experienced great performances from Scotland's bands recently. But this performance from the LSO, near-incredible in its classiness, was a reminder of the bigger world out there. Leonidas Kavakos, a great violinist, is a red hot orchestra director (not an orthodox conductor, more of a lean and lunge director) but a man from whom musicianship streams; and he did have the LSO, who clearly could read him like a book, playing for him.

Never have I witnessed such virtuosity put so much at the service of the music. The performance of Beethoven's much-derided Triple Concerto, with Kavakos as violinist/director, joined by LSO principal cellist Tim Hugh and lucid, articulate pianist Enrico Pace, was so characterful and refined that it really demanded a complete re-assessment of this neglected piece, which is stuffed with memorable and singable melodies.

And with an electric Prometheus Overture at the start, and an immensely concentrated Eroica Symphony at the close, an Eroica which laid as much emphasis on its inner organic unity as on its exterior revolutionary qualities, this challenging and riveting set of performances asked as many questions as it suggested solutions on a fabulous night for live art.