QUITE recently, Alasdair Jamieson "retired" as conductor of York Symphony Orchestra. When his successor found his diary too crowded, Jamieson was persuaded to return, albeit temporarily.

On the evidence of this programme of Bax, Grieg and Brahms, the orchestra should do all it can to persuade him to remain permanently.

Jamieson has coaxed, cajoled and, no doubt, cudgelled the orchestra into a focus it rarely displayed before his time. No airy-fairy wafting for him. His crisp beat is persuasive: these players thrive on it.

Bax’s Tintagel may have been inspired by his expected tryst with pianist Harriet Cohen, but it breaks away from maritime musings into nostalgia for Arthurian derring-do. Jamieson probed its early ebb and flow pleasingly, even if peaking a little early in King Arthur’s name.

There was plenty of rhythmic zest, too, in Grieg’s Symphonic Dances, where his Norwegian nationalism rampages almost unrestrained. An exception is the Allegretto, where the rippling harp of Georgina Wells, later aligned with Christina Young’s soulful oboe, was entrancing. Jamieson gave his trombones full rein in both the final dances, on the way to a hearty climax.

The orchestra got off to a diffident start in Brahms’s Second Symphony but the violins soon found a lovely meld. Mark Sykes’s horn made an invaluable contribution to the Adagio. The woodwind choir shone in the Allegretto and the cellos, another vastly improved section, came into their own in the finale.