Fielding somewhat smaller numbers than is usual for a symphony orchestra in Symphony Hall, our visitors soon settled, although at times lower strings sounded a little subdued and reticent.
Conductor Marin Alsop tried in vain to raise the sawdust in folksy square dances and Shaker melodies highlighted in Copland's Appalachian Spring. The lop-sided rhythms were careful, but principal trumpet disconcertingly ploughed his own tempi in spite of being placed head-on to that clear beat.
Sibelius tests any soloist with his devilishly virtuoso violin concerto, and one suspected that soloist Tasmin Little had bitten off more than she could chew for this particular performance. An air of palpable anxiety was difficult to ignore as the intonation became more wayward and panic stricken.
Thankfully there was solid and sensitive accompanying from Marin Alsop and her orchestra, and less obvious angst in the slow movement. Brooding low notes were a real treat from the lovely 1757 Guadagnini violin, however horns somewhat spoiled the charm with extraordinary muted chords - truly 'industrial' - no discernable pitch at all.
Back on terra firma, springtime was evoked with a sparkling performance of Beethoven's Symphony no 6. The Pastoral. Neat ensemble from upper strings danced off the pages, woodwind evoked their dawn chorus and the timpani storm pre-empted a genuine post concert deluge.