City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Leeds Town Hall

CONSTANTINOS Carydis and the CBSO cleverly juxtaposed music by Greek composers Nikos Skalkottas and Periklis Koukos with Tchaikovsky and Beethoven “warhorses”.

Skalkottas’ engaging and boldly orchestrated Four Images contrasted lyricism with earthiness.

The exuberant finale entitled The Grape Stomping surely evoked a feeling of tipsy merrymaking - an intoxicating precursor to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1.

Soloist Yulianna Avdeeva gained international recognition as winner of the 2010 Chopin Competition. Although technically brilliant, Avdeeva’s loud metallic glint in the first movement seemed unremitting. The beautiful Andante semplice had more light and shade but tumbling cascades of notes in the finale somehow lacked colour and textural variety.

Athens born Periklis Koukos describes his composition for string orchestra, In Memoriam YA Papaioannou, as a dignified farewell and a yearning prayer for his absent companion. The piquant harmonies and a poignant solo violin led virtually without a pause into Beethoven’s Symphony No 7. The expressive hands of Constantinos Carydis galvanised the CBSO and mesmerised the Leeds Town Hall audience with a performance of joyous, febrile intensity. Sublime woodwind solos in the haunting Allegretto movement and (impossibly) soft but crystal clear string textures in the mercurial Scherzo made an indelible impression.

Above all though, it was the relentless energy of Carydis’ inexorably faster and faster final movement and the explosive ending that set his interpretation apart.

- Geoffrey Mogridge