Once famously described by Simon Rattle as "the finest French orchestra in the country", the CBSO proved on Tuesday it can still couper la moutarde with a mouth-watering all-Gallic programme under the exciting French-Canadian conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin.
Initially his gestures seemed a little superfluous, but with hindsight that hectoring left hand was entirely appropriate to a splendid account of Le Corsaire, Berlioz at his Byronic best, the CBSO strings fizzing, woodwind immediate and positive, brass full yet contained.
And then, at the other end of a long but generally rewarding evening, that same left hand was gently nudging sexy but doomed nuances from the orchestra in a reading of Ravel's decadent La Valse which was both soupy and silky, and luminous in the clarity of its detail, before the Titanic-like collapse which was surely remembered in Bolero.
Ever-objective, Ravel was also represented in the leaner textures of Le Tombeau de Couperin, its Prelude given at a swift tempo well coped with by the woodwind, the inner movements suavely shaped, and the concluding Rigaudon bringing some tight, biting string articulation.
The evening's highlight came with a fabulous collaboration between Yannick Nezet-Seguin's CBSO and Wayne Marshall for Poulenc's ever-enthralling Organ Concerto. Timpanist Peter Hill was a dramatically resonant partner in Marshall's theatrical, brilliantly-coloured account of this glorious work, the Symphony Organ and the hall's wide-open acoustic chambers doing full justice to the neo-Gothic subtext of the piece.
Marshall even inserted a cadenza, resonating with spitfire cannon-ades of note-clusters, and then encored with his own jolly transcription of Bernstein's Wonderful Town Overture.
Despite displaying a tantalisingly rich mezzo register, Anna Caterina Antonacci gave a disappointing Berlioz Nuits d'Ete, her studied body-language distracting from her vocal delivery.