The first movement, Andante - Allegro, opens slowly, with a clarinet solo/duo. Mr. Trpčeski enters with a scurrying motif, the music soon getting big and fast, and the delightful sound of castanets adding an unexpected ingredient. Mr. Forteza's clarinet sings again, and the music calms, taking on a spaced-out feeling. A pulsing develops, with the piano rippling away, ascending to the upper range where it meets the piccolo. The castanets sneak up on us again; the pianist plays what amounts to an accompanied cadenza - Mr. Trpčeski as his most intriguing - and there's a fast finish.

Jaunty flutes, clarinet, and bassoon introduce the second movement - a Theme and Variations affair - and Mr. Trpčeski commences with a perfect trill and a magical ascent. His solo is dreamy, but then there's a tumult, with trumpets.The piano plays emphatically over plucked cellos, and an eerie Misterioso atmosphere develops, with elusive horn calls. Mr. Forteza plays once more, so evocative his tone, and then a wonderful motif for the descending strings is heard. Piano and horn entwine softly. The music, after brief animation, subsides to a quiet end.

For the final Allegro ma non troppo, witty, swirling perpetual motion from the pianist (in brilliant figurations) contrasts with more somber yet lyrical moods expressed by the orchestra. The violins play a radiant theme, the piano sounding ironic. The music becomes spacious - with the piano glimmering - then turns quite grand before subsiding, in lovely soft downward piano scales, to a dreamy state (Mr. Trpčeski is sublime here...). A rush to the finish ensues, with the piano pounding out magnificent chords whilst the orchestra blazes away.

Greeted by a standing ovation, Mr. Trpčeski delighted us with a Prokofiev encore; we could not hear his remarks, but the music was something he'd purloined from the bassoon. He made a bow to Judith LeClair as he finished, amid more cheers.


Above, this evening's conductor, Jakub Hrůša; photo by Andreas Herzau