THE ESO, with William Boughton on the rostrum, swirled into the gypsy rhythms of Brahms's Hungarian Dance No. 1. With strong tempi and surges of colourful sound, along with the double-basses and cellos in plucking episodes, this was a stimulating start.

Bernard Roberts was the soloist in Brahms's Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat. In an authoritative interpretation, the orchestra met the pianist at every moment. The persuasive opening of exchanges between solo horn and pianist became stronger, until with the full orchestra they settled in to wonderful melody and off-beat repartee, the horn continuing to comment. The pianist's powerful trill thundered the 'Allegro non troppo' to conclusion.

The 'Andante's' emotional theme played by the solo cello, and passed on to the violins and woodwind gradually, seemed to be almost irrelevant to the pianist's reverie. In the final rondo 'Allegretto grazioso' the dancing piano, played nimbly and with crystal clear arpeggios and runs, lower strings plucking, touches of Hungarian gypsy evident in the orchestra, led to a joyful finish.

The Symphony No 3 in F showed excellent rapport between the orchestra's instrumentalists. The 'Allegro con brio' opened with the woodwind conversing gently with the strings. The unison strings were superb, as was the entire orchestra, as eventually the horns, then all the brass became involved.

The woodwind's statement of the first phase of the main theme in the 'Andante', continued by the low string, built up to a beautifully cantabile by all the strings.

The last 'Allegro' displayed the strengths of the brass and woodwind sections. Almost martial, sometimes melodic, the full orchestra arrived at the severe end. JILL HOPKINS