If the craft of the conductor has ever been a mystery to you – for it can certainly be a mystery to the orchestra – there couldn’t have been a finer explanation than this showcase concert. A rostrum rota was in play, as a carousel of conductors from the International Conductors’ Academy of the Allianz Cultural Foundation each wheeled their distinctive gestures, and effected radically different musical results.

The Four Sea Interludes from Benjamin Britten’s first opera, Peter Grimes, are both an instrumental tour-de-force and a detailed microcosm of the drama’s complexities. Alas, this rendition was simply all too unsubtle and Arturo Alvarado never really found a satisfying orchestral balance. More often than not the loud passages became unclear, as the brass overwhelmed their colleagues (neither their fault nor Britten’s), whilst the moments of delicacy lacked shading and profundity.

Most successful was Darrell Ang’s orchestral partnership. His mischievous manner obviously warmed the orchestra, who in turn trusted him and substantiated his musical arguments. Sunwook Kim, the youngest winner of the Leeds Piano Competition in forty years (he was just eighteen when he took the prize – and he’s only twenty-three now), was the perfect soloist in Prokofiev’s steely Piano Concerto no. 2. His transformation of the first movement – from its sultry and romantic opening to its brittle and modernist cadenza – was compelling. And at every corner of his carefully considered and executed development he was met by Ang’s sensitive support.

Three dances from Thomas Adès’ raunchy and disturbing opera, Powder Her Face, provided Ang with his moment in the limelight, even if his modesty made for an awkward response to the warm applause. It also became apparent why the Prokofiev had been so well accompanied, for Ang’s technique is neat and efficient, charged in this instance with a charming naughtiness.

Finally came the glossy showmanship of Bulgarian, Yordan Kamdzhalov. It would have been all too easy to dismiss this as a superficial, choreographed routine: he thrusted, lunged, and dived until one wondered if the music itself could inspire its own energy. Certainly, the orchestra would have played the loud music just as well together and with the same commitment had Kamdzhalov only given the faintest lead. But when Katy Woolley’s heavenly horn solo announced the ‘Final Hymn’, we suddenly knew that a spell of considerable magic had been cast by the man at the front.