The programme notes suggested that Glinka was the father of Russian nationalism. Perhaps this is the case, but his overture to his second opera, Ruslan and Ludmilla, is undeniably an Italianate work, surely influenced by his meetings with Donizetti and Bellini in 1830. Although written twelve years later, it still typifies that idiomatically light and breezy style, which is exactly what the Orchestre de Paris found. There were moments when the orchestra could have been better balanced – particularly in the coda, when the counterpoint became a little confusing – but it was the verve and vitality that was so impressive.

Indeed, if there were to be a singular criticism levelled at this concert, it would be that Yamada never quite took complete control at crucial moments. Instead, he performed a choreographed routine (from memory in the Glinka and Tchaikovsky) that was impressive in its elegance and energy, but was never quite reactive enough when things did not quite go his way. He is certainly refreshingly humble though, almost reluctant to take any applause for himself, and insistent on sharing it with every section of the orchestra in turn.

Khachaturian's piano concerto is a work more clearly in the vernacular, with its strident lines and dense orchestral textures. Written in 1936 as part of his concerto trilogy (complemented by those for violin and cello), it was met with approbation by Prokofiev, with the World Telegram stating that – after its American première in 1942, at the Julliard School, New York – 'there is no piano concerto in the entire literature to equal this one in sheer energy, speed, and drive'. Certainly it is a loud and raw affair, employing the deliberate style of 'wrong note' harmony (so popular as an ironic touch with iconoclastic composers such as Poulenc) for a powerful and pungent effect.

To this end, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, known both for his stylish stage presence and consummate artistry, was the perfect soloist. Never did he let affectation prevail, for force-feeding this work with extra-musical material would render it not only unpalatable but indigestible. Rather, he consistently strove to find something intelligent and interesting to reveal amongst the never-ending clusters, and did so with a charming virtuosity, at once seemingly effortless and delightfully involved. And if there was any doubt that he could make the piano sing (because he did not impose any needless chanson upon the concerto), he let the audience work themselves to a frenzy before permitting a refined and beautiful encore of Chopin's Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2, on his sixth return to the stage. As ever, Thibaudet's sartorial choices demand comment as well: an open-neck shirt with a starched and pronounced wing-collar framed a glittering necklace, echoed further down his sparkling and bejewelled belt-buckle.

During the concerto, however, electronic interference played havoc with the Salle Pleyel's sound system – an incessant whining growing for thirty minutes, destroying the few moments of peace in the work. It clearly bothered many, both on stage and off: Thibaudet dabbed his ears during the few bars rest the soloist is afforded in the vain hope that he could wipe the nuisance from his ears; busy officials started to run about at first just between movements, and then more like a stream of ants, trying to breach an intruder's entry. Yet, despite a few doubtful looks between Thibaudet and Yamada, they continued, and the work seemed mightier for it, its colossal impression overwhelming the disturbance.

The 'Pathétique' – Tchaikovsky's sixth symphony, so-called for its enigmatic programme that presumably expresses a biographical curve from uncertainty, through jubilation, to its ultimate tragic demise (Tchaikovsky committed suicide) – concluded the programme. Seen through such a lens of depression, repression, and tragedy, the symphony juxtaposes immediate passions with a sense of the ever-lasting. Yamada achieved the moments of brilliance very well, no more so than in the third movement, and also in the more animated passages in the first. The second movement lingered a little too much, but still conveyed its charm through sweet wind playing. However, the fundamental contrast between light and dark (the joys and sorrows of life) was missing throughout the whole of the work, meaning that the moments of reflection and uncertainty never pressed at the enigma, let alone suggested as to its resolution.