Recently, Scotland’s leading music critic, Michael Tumelty of the Herald, bemoaned that all the glamorous concerts with visiting orchestras and big stars, were more likely to be found in Edinburgh than Glasgow. Therefore, it is no surprise to find him in the audience for this starry concert at the Usher Hall this afternoon, a great time for listening to great music (and a time when old men are less likely to fall asleep!).

Here is the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, one of Europe’s leading orchestras, no doubt funded by well-heeled Swiss bankers. It is interestingly led, rather than conducted, by its leader Willi Zimmermann, confirming that many orchestras can play just as well without a conductor, as with one.

Accompanying the orchestra are two glamorous, international stars: Alison Balsom, who in recent years has made the trumpet her own instrument and has won all sorts of international awards; and the international star pianist, Gabriela Montero.

Balsom plays the Hummel Trumpet Concerto in the first half, which is a bright, melodic piece sounding not unlike Mozart. Indeed, Mozart taught Hummel, and his Symphony No. 33 opens the concert. Montero plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 to open the second half and then Balsom joins her to end the concert with the amazing Shostakovich Concerto for Piano and Trumpet.

The theme of the concert is ‘towards the roaring twenties’—Mozart, Hummel and Shostakovich composed all this afternoon’s works while in their twenties. They are indeed filled with youthful vigour and melody, even the Shostakovich, which had not yet been burdened by Stalinism. Indeed, the youthful composer had proudly declared that he was a Soviet artist and clearly saw experimenting with music as consistent with building socialism.

After Stalin condemned him for Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in 1936, Shostakovich became a little more cautious in his compositions. However, the Concerto for Piano and Trumpet, composed in 1933, is full of radical ideas but also lots of melody. It is, of course, superbly played by our soloists.

The concert is well received by a big Usher Hall audience, but then an unusual thing happens. Montero talks to the audience and asks for a theme she can pick up and improvise on: this is one her encore party tricks. Someone suggests My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose by Burns and we sing it rather lamely to her, proving that it’s quite a difficult song to sing.

However, Montero picks up the theme quickly and then goes on to develop her improvisations, which to be truthful don’t sound very related to the great Burns song. Nevertheless, the audience love it and she gets several more rounds of applause and cries of brava! We have a great and glamorous afternoon and Tumelty no doubt goes home to Glasgow happy!