AFTER a year in the making, a new piano only shows its mettle when it finally goes on stage.

At least that's according to Ulrich Gerhartz and as director concerts and artists' services at Steinway and Sons of Hamburg, he should know.

If so, then the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's shiny new £120,000 Steinway passed its audition with flying colours in the hands of Sunwook Kim and by default, Johannes Brahms, on Wednesday night.

Hundreds of BSO supporters raised the money for the instrument in less than 12 months and many were in the audience to see its debut.

Gerhartz was there too. He sourced 12 Steinways and Sunwook, one of the finest pianist of his generation, made the final choice.

And what better piece of music to introduce it than Brahms intense and monumental Piano Concerto No 1.

The close bond between chief conductor Kirill Karabits and soloist was evident during the stunning performance and at the end.

If there was plenty of emotion in the first half, even more so after the interval.

It featured the UK premiere of Karabits' compatriot Boris Lyatoshinsky's epic Symphony No3.

Karabits' mother is the leading Ukrainian authority on Lyatoshinsky.

By turns, baffling, serene, frenzied and soaring, this is a big production number requiring the orchestra to be at the very top of its game. Add in the conductor's love for this tour de force and everything falls into place.

Written in 1951 it was the composer's powerful response to the horrors of World War Two in which Ukraine suffered grievously under the Nazis.

Karabits' pride in and passion for this piece from his homeland was also evident throughout.

By the end we had almost forgotten about Brahms and the piano. Almost.

Andy Martin