They have little more than two decades between their dates of composition, both are scored for exotic orchestras, and one would have thought the similarities between Ravel's Mother Goose and Mahler's First Symphony would have ended there.
Yet despite their differences of musical language, Ravel precise and elliptical, Mahler lengthilyparagraphed and discursive, another littleappreciated link became apparent in Sakari Oramo's interpretation of these two wonderful works on Wednesday with the CBSO: they both begin with the sounds of woodland dawn awakenings, both openings prefiguring material of immense thematic importance later on.
Oramo and the CBSO are making something of a speciality of Ravel's sophisticatedly urban view of this enchanting fairy-story. Foregrounds and backgrounds here emerged and receded naturally, dynamics subtly shaped, and solos (sweet violin contributions and delicate interchanges between flute and clarinet just some examples) told their tale with touching eloquence.
It was not encouraging to hear some members of the orchestra during the interval practising their solos in the Mahler; we lost both the element of surprise, and reassurance that they were confident in what they were about to play.
But in the event such fears proved unnecessary, Oramo's interpretation (thankfully not sticking too slavishly to the over-markings with which the inexperienced Mahler loaded his score) moving from chamber-music interchanges and well-judged perspectives to the eventual bring-the-house-down climax.
Along the way there was much to commend: exultantly whooping horns as the optimistic first movement approached its end, the exhilarating clog dance of the scherzo sandwiching a silkily louche trio, and John Tattersdill's lugubrious double-bass solo introducing the slow movement's waxwork tableaux.
And finally the marvellous horns once more, standing to affirm the exultant finale. Mahler would never achieve one so easily again.
* Broadcast on BBC Radio3 Monday (7.30pm).