THERE were some fabulous things in Tuesday's concert by the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, not least the rare opportunity to hear Richard Strauss's Macbeth, an extremely dramatic and, I suspect, underrated symphonic poem, plus the dazzling, breath-taking interpretation of John McLeod's Piano Concerto, which received a performance by pianist James Willshire, playing entirely from memory, that was a tour de force of musicianship and virtuosity.

...But in what is clearly a very fine crop of NYOS musicians this year, the youngsters were just as adept and idiomatic in their performance of McLeod's decisively-crafted and thrillingly-imagined Concerto, with their whiplash response to the composer's explosively energetic rhythms (McLeod, a sprightly 81, directed it himself) and as sensitive to James Willshire's declamatory, pyrotechnical playing as they were to the concerto's more atmospheric and intimate pages. Honours all round. A great night for NYOS, and music-making in young Scotland.
***** The Herald, Scotland
Pianist James Willshire's spectacular musicianship and technical brilliance complimented the orchestra's skilled performance of McLeod's Piano Concerto, a highly atmospheric piece demanding virtuosic playing from all sections. Having previously worked with NYOS, there is evident respect here, with the composer drawing superb playing from these young musicians in this most testing of works.
***** The Scotsman
It took all of about two bars to be utterly entranced by the deceptive cantabile melody that is set up only to be overtaken by a musical thinking that is overwhelmed continually by its own logical momentum. Willshire shaped and characterised every moment with freshness and lucidity.
The Herald, Scotland
...a fabulous technician...torrential virtuosity...crowning Willshire’s programme was a superb performance of Boyle's Piano Sonata.
The Herald, Scotland
...the impressive young soloist, James Willshire, whose authority and dexterity were formidable, but whose strengths were rhythmic incisiveness, bravura technique and delicacy.
Birmingham Post the Prokofiev, James Willshire executed the snake-like passage work with needle-sharp articulation.
The Scotsman Mozart's A minor Rondo, K511, and Beethoven's Les Adieux Sonata his playing displayed a subdued intensity, light-years away from flashy pianistic excess.
The Herald, Scotland