SO here it is: the final week of Stephane Deneve's directorship of the RSNO and the last programme from the big French musician who has been, cumulatively, such a huge influence and had such a massive impact on his ever-growing Scottish audiences.

Though he is in no way a man for regret or looking nostalgically backwards, Deneve admits he is still coming to terms himself with his imminent departure. "I still don't really realise it's the end," he said, relaxing in his beautiful home in Pollokshields, while his Swedish wife Asa prepared what she called "good mood food", stuffing a chicken with exotic-smelling herbs, and while his wide-eyed, tri-lingual daughter Alma pinned a music critic to his seat with her unflinching gaze explaining, in a matter-of-fact way, that now she is four and next year she will be five.

"I don't want to admit yet that it's the end," resumed Deneve, 40. "I still feel slightly young, if I may say, and I'm still full of RSNO stories. It will be very strange in June." Meanwhile, however, there is the final programme, a labour of love that, admits Deneve, came together very easily.

"The whole of the final season was obvious to me: it was the Auld Alliance, the Debussy series and all the correspondences. But when I thought about my last week, there were two options.

"One was to try and have the maximum number of friends and soloists around. The other was to be alone with my RSNO family: the orchestra, the RSNO Chorus and the RSNO Junior Chorus, all of us together on stage." That was his decision, and the programme content flowed naturally from that.

"This has been my first musical directorship. In my very first programme I conducted Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe, the Suite. So now, seven years later, in my last programme, I will conduct this most iconic French masterpiece, Daphnis and Chloe, complete, with the two choruses.

"And I definitely wanted some Scottish music in the programme, so the idea of James MacMillan's Britannia came very easily. We played it on our first visit to Paris. I am so, so glad to have met James MacMillan, and so glad to have discovered his music. And I will leave Scotland with a new piece of James MacMillan that we will premiere in Stuttgart with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra at the end of next season."

That last statement raises a number of points: leaving Scotland, Stuttgart, where Deneve is now principal conductor of the radio symphony orchestra, and the wider trajectory of Deneve's burgeoning career.

"Well; I'm not leaving Scotland. I'll be living here next year. We like this house. Alma loves her nursery and we feel at home here." And daughter Alma figures prominently too in the Deneve family decision not to move to Stuttgart and live there. "Our little girl speaks already three languages: French, English and Swedish; and we think that, right before she starts school, in the last year of nursery, to add another language, German, which I love, would be unfair."

He's not leaving the RSNO to start a new job in Germany: he's already there. He has been running his last season in Scotland in parallel with his first in Stuttgart. "So I am already at the end of my first season in Germany." He loves it. He's doing big stuff: "Alpine Symphony, Mahler symphonies", and the relationship is founded on the seriousness with which Germany, and the SRSO, take their music. "Plus, there is such a huge chemistry with the orchestra there: We are having such a honeymoon it's embarrassing," he said, roaring with laughter.

"Stuttgart is a great step for me. But there are still some possibilities cooking; so until I am sure, I prefer to live here in Scotland. But yes, in the future we may move at some point to another part of the world." He can't say more, but there is no question about where that is likely to be: America. On each occasion he has been invited to conduct an American orchestra, it has been one of the big-league outfits: the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony and Boston Symphony Orchestras, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles and San Francisco Orchestras and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. And with each of them he has been asked to return.

Now, just seven years after taking on his first orchestra directorship, he is conducting six to eight American orchestras every year. Moreover, he now has a summer season in the States. This summer he'll be in Colorado for two programmes with the Philadelphia. Then he goes to the Hollywood Bowl for two programmes with the Los Angeles Phil. And then it's on to Saratoga for the Philadelphia summer residency where he will do three more programmes with the orchestra. Then he goes to Tanglewood for two programmes with the Boston Symphony, one with cellist Yo Yo Ma, the other a joint affair where he will share the stage with Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnanyi and John Williams: "Good company I would say," mused Deneve. "Things go well in America." It has seemed to me for some time, I suggest to him, that ultimately he will end up in the States at the head of one of the premiere league US orchestras. Deneve is careful: "You are courted for an orchestra; you do not make a campaign for an orchestra. But you're quite right. Every sign shows I will have a future in that country." He lowers his voice: "It's boiling, actually."

Meanwhile, back in Scotland as this, his final week, loomed, he had a few thoughts on his tenure. "I'm so passionate about music that I want to share it. And one of the most proud things for me was to offer music to more people, more young people. And the numbers in the audience are the evidence. And I think you noticed that, over the seven years, the mood, the feeling in the hall changed.

"I'm also very proud that the audience has not only allowed me to be myself, but to discover who I am. That's something big for me, as this has been my first position as a music director." And the RSNO? "The main thing with the RSNO has been the generosity of their playing. In every concert people have given a lot. I've been quite satisfied that we gave it all we could: I never felt betrayed by the orchestra. I'm very proud of the level of their playing. You really feel you are the captain, that you hold the tension and the motivation.

"Sometimes you have to be strong, and demanding: you cannot only be nice, you know; and I've had my share of sometimes being very tough. You have to do it: this is a powerful position.

Achievements? Recording the Roussel symphonies and the "extensive work" on the French style. "That obliged me really to figure out how to express it. But above all, he sees the new Debussy CDs, released on Chandos last week, as the "crowning" of the seven years. "I have dreamed about this for years. This Debussy meant a lot, and I put everything I could into it. And I do believe it is quite good." With that, we have a drink, shake hands, I get a kiss on the cheek from wee Alma, and I leave the Deneves in peace for their dinner and their "good mood food".

RSNO: Au revoir concerts: Friday, Usher Hall, Saturday, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 7.30pm Follow the conductor's career on his new website