Vladimir Ashkenazy’s Beethoven celebration with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra continues on apace after a six-month break, the final three instalments featuring a pair of fine piano soloists, and culminating in the mighty Ninth in a couple of weeks’ time. The drawcards in this “Beethoven Heroic” concert were, of course, the ever-remarkable EroicaSymphony, but also a welcome appearance in the Fourth Piano Concerto by young Australian pianist Jayson Gillham, a much-talked about rising star whose performance of the work won him the Montreal International Music Competition a couple of years ago.

There was a natural poetry evident from Gillham’s opening motive onwards, and also a certain careful restraint born of a desire to take his time and build his narrative. A tall, rangy figure, he has a natural elegance at the piano, sitting upright, arms easily spanning the instrument. His scales were fluid and even, the weight and balance well distributed. Despite the odd minor hiccup, his tone was rounded and substantial, easily riding the orchestra. The SSO was kept in check perfectly by Ashkenazy. A great proponent of the work himself, he knows it backwards and it shows. The first movement cadenza found Gillham in his natural habitat, displaying...