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Derek Han joined the orchestra for an account of Grieg's Piano Concerto that was lively enough in the vigorous music, but really came into its own in the more inward, poetic passages. The second movement was full of atmosphere -- tender, evocative and delicate. Throughout Derek Han played with poise, though not complete technical security, including a brief memory lapse in the first movement, from which he recovered with admirable self-possession.

The second half belonged to Ravel. Suite no 2 from Daphnis and Chloé produced the evening's most satisfying performance, beautifully balanced and with a splendid sheen to the sound. The final dance just needed a touch more abandon to be completely exhilarating.

The accumulating momentum of Boléro, though compellingly realised, was rather undermined by the questionable decision to treat the side-drum player like a concerto soloist, entering with the conductor and placed at the front of the stage. Yes, the part is a tour-de-force, but it is the music's framework, not a foreground feature.

Three cheers, though, for an original choice of encore -- the last five minutes or so of Milhaud's Le Boeuf sur le Toit, projected with an irresistible sense of fun.

Copyright © 15 March 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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