Already, less than two weeks into Birmingham's four-year exploration of the complete output of Stravinsky, the trawl has thrown up a couple of duds.
But yesterday one of his lesserknown works, the Septet from the early 1950s, revealed itself to be a gem of a piece. Busily Bachian, and proudly proclaiming the composer's Russian roots, it announces what was to be another great influence on the composer's style: Second Viennese School serialism.
Under Sakari Oramo's clear and unfussy direction Birmingham Contemporary Music Group gave a brilliant account of this deceptively difficult score which was at once earthy and cerebral - and how good it was to welcome back Malcolm Wilson's deft, meticulous pianism after lengthy illness.
Renard is better-known, but has suffered from some rather cheesy presentations in the past. Here all the irony and viciousness of the folk-tale were conveyed in Oramo's colourful, rhythmic reading, the BCMG players responding with crisp articulation, every event and incident communicated with effective timing.
In the magnificently dramatic projections of the vocal quartet (Neil Jenkins, Nigel Robson, Simon Preece, Terry Edwards), Edwards was at his most lugubriously cavernous and Jenkins was wonderfully ingratiating as the chief representation of the swaggering cockerel.
Finally came a project personally dear to Oramo's heart, a fully-staged Soldier's Tale in collaboration with Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company and DanceXchange.
Jonathan Church's direction played out wittily and resourcefully on a carpeted square in the middle of the auditorium, David Massingham's choreography built expressively on the slinky, seductive skills of Rachel McDermott's Princess (and even successfully involved the three compelling actors Paul Shelley, Julian Protheroe and Benny Young), and Oramo's enthusiastic, determined conducting drew vivid playing from the BCMG, violinist Robert Heard rock- like and outstanding.