I CANNOT recall having seen The Nutcracker Suite performed live other than as a ballet.

So the second half of the evening entitled Tchaikovsky Magic was quite something.

Not because this has been one of my favourite pieces for decades, but because without the ‘distraction’ of the dance and the sole focus placed on the music and the musicians, it became even clearer to me at least just how much of a spellbinding and ingenious work this is.

The ever-popular and festive adaption of Hoffman’s fairytale is always a joy, but the BSO performance under the baton of chief conductor, Kirill Karabits, especially so.

This was indeed a tremendously joyous hour with everyone playing their part, although a special mention for the flutes and the harps and Alistair Young on piano for the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The evening began with something else to elicit a smile too.

The Concerto for Orchestra No 1 ‘Naughty Limericks’ may not be especially familiar, but the BSO and Karabits have established a close relationship over the last decade with Moscow-born composer Rodion Shchedrin, described as the greatest living Russian composer of his generation.

He wrote this 15-minute piece, (drawn from folk chastushki or sung limericks) in 1963 and it established his reputation with its many variations on many themes.

And the joy kept coming. The BSO’s new artist in residence Gabriela Montero charmed the whole house with a stunning debut with Karabits on Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 24.

But an even louder roar of approval went up when, for the encore, she improvised for ten minutes with an instant composition based on half a dozen notes from a member of the audience.

An evening of...well pure joy.