Our eyes and throats cleared, we witnessed orchestral forces shift for Tzigane, that outrageous blend of camp and camp-fire. Here the violinist was the young Eunice Lee, pupil of Samuel Magad (leader of the Chicago Symphony), seasoned concert performer and Previn's chosen soloist for the world premiere of his own Violin Sonata. Any live performance of Tzigane invites an element of "hit or miss": there are countless tricks to conquer - harmonics, left-hand pizzicatos, crunchy chords and fiendishly demanding passages where the player's wrist stretches virtually to the bridge of the instrument.
Ms Lee's solo cadenza started well, with a confident attack, seductive portamentos and some extremely musical phrasing. But when the wrist-stretching started, her vibrato became nervously insistent and her manner understandably uncomfortable. Previn looked on, evidently concerned, although Lee was soon back on course for a properly frenetic finale.
The fireworks over, we finished as we started in the world of ballet and the best part of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe. Previn had opted for the two suites rather than the complete ballet because, as he had told me some months earlier, "we wanted to do all the other things as well" - although, to be fair to us in the audience, Sunday's rather short programme (it was all over by around 9.15pm) could easily have accommodated the full ballet's extra 20 minutes of music. Still, what we did have was superbly done, the First Suite's hugely sonorous "Danse guerriere" proving beyond doubt that Ravel's scoring needs to be heard live. And what a line-up of percussion - timps, bass drum, gong, cymbals and more, all going flat- out for the final charge. The Second Suite is, of course, far better known, with its sun-drenched dawn chorus, balmy "Pantomime" and wildly cantering "Danse generale". "Pure Hollywood!" said the chap sitting next to me, somewhat tongue-in-cheek - but I could see what he meant. Previn, as ever the consummate professional, gave us a powerful, big-screen Daphnis, gleaming, untroubled by mannerism and perfect food for the theatre of one's imagination. Next concert in the series: Thursday 7.30pm. Booking: 0171-638 8891Reuse content