Review: National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain *****

At Leeds Town Hall

Critics on this page rate performances in stars, to a maximum

of five. If I could, I'd break the rule today and make it six, for this was an exceptional concert.

Hardly surprising, perhaps, for an ensemble that has helped to shape the careers of thousands of musicians, sending many into the highest reaches of the industry. Although the maximum age of its 70 players is 18, the standard is of a high level and courage matches conviction at every turn.

Even seasoned professionals might think twice about tackling Prokofiev's Scythian Suite, Berg's Violin Concerto, Liszt's Totentanz and Janacek's Sinfonietta in one programme. Each, however, was approached with that blend of energy, optimism and discipline that characterises this orchestra.

Three tubas and 12 double basses aided the raw drama of the Scythian Suite, the Berg benefited from a superb soloist in Tai Murray, the pianist Stewart Goodyear fizzed through the Liszt and the Sinfonietta was dispatched in a blaze of glory, all under the inspired baton of Kristjan Jarvi.