ONCE again, the jewel in Bolton's musical crown dazzled the fortunates who witnessed their impeccable renditions of Sibelius and Nielson.

Opening with the popular classic Finlandia, an early Sibelius tone poem written under Russian domination in 1899, conductor Robert Chasey and leader Gerald Hopkin encouraged the players to blow away the remains of a drowsy, overheated day.

The BSO was then joined by guest soloist Richard Davis, Principal Flute with the BBC Philharmonic, for Nielson's Flute Concerto. It is a difficult work that Mr Davis simply nailed to the wall. His lyrical understanding of the quieter passages, quite breathtakingly beautiful in their tranquillity, and his sense of phrasing, coupled with meticulous virtuosity, made brilliant sense of an intriguing piece of work.

The evening concluded with Sibelius's First Symphony, described by Mr Chasey as "absolute music".

And as absolute music, this was absolute class. The BSO is a source of immense artistic pride for this town, and no one should miss the BSO's smaller company, Bolton Sinfonietta, when they present their Spring Serenade at Bolton School on April 23.

Nigel McFarlane