MOSCOW RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conductor, Vladimir Fedoseyev, soloist Helene Grimaud, Cultural Centre The Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra made their first Arts Festival appearance last Friday. The large audience had high expectations for Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring and there were no disappointments. This was a world-class performance worthy of any orchestra and any festival. For conductor and orchestra there are few more challenging pieces. This vision of Russian pagan rites was savage, uncompromising yet beautiful when required. The famous pitfalls were negotiated effortlessly by all departments. The Champs Elysee Theatre in Paris hosted the first performance of the Rite as a ballet in 1913 and it was a disaster. The police were called to eject several members of the audience who had stripped naked to revolt against Nijinsky's portrayal of . . . 'the young girl dancing herself to death as a sacrifice to propitiate the God of Spring'. The precarious opening bassoon solo set the scene. Stravinsky wrote this to depict someone 'striving for the unattainable!' For this young bassoonist who played musically, in tune and with great freedom - everything was attainable. The alto flute, the trumpets and horns in 'The Sacrifice', the percussion and strings - all followed his example. The performance hammered home the importance of energy and rhythmic pulse. Hong Kong audiences rarely hear such controlled, focused and brilliant team playing. In comparison, the Brahms was dull. Apart from the technically secure soloist Helene Grimaud who showed a delicate control of dynamics, this mighty D-minor concerto lacked warmth, colour and musical intensity. A reduced string section did not help and neither did the lack of projection from the wind and brass soloists. The concert opened with a sensitive performance of Chan Pui-fang's Ode To Snow. A very attractive work featuring beautiful solo violin and solo flute playing pitted against a background of wintry Chinese landscapes. Conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev demonstrated, especially in the two delightful encores, a wonderful stick technique and an understanding of how important audience communication is. The final concert by the Moscow Orchestra starts at 8pm tonight.