If Elgar gave Wednesday's concert its soul, and RimskyKorsakov its opulence, it was Julian Anderson, the CBSO's recent composer-in-residence, who provided the thrills and spills.
It began with Anderson's Imagin'd Corners (from 2002) and Eden, written for last year's Cheltenham Festival. As a pair they powerfully demonstrate the distinctive qualities of Anderson's scoring, especially his imaginative ear for texture and timbre.
With its perambulatory obligato horns (who move from offstage to different positions on
the platform, and often seem to call to each other like stags at bay) and virtuoso orchestral writing (the jazz-inflected climax was a terrifically exciting and brilliantly executed orgiastic cacophony) Imagin'd Corners is in every way a showpiece calling card.
But, although it has similarities with the earlier work, including Anderson's fondness for gamelan-sounding percussion and experimental tuning systems, Eden is underneath its uncompromisingly dissonant modern exterior quite a reflective, romantic piece.
Romanticism was certainly uppermost in soloist Paul Watkins' vibrant performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto. He perhaps missed some of the dark
melancholy of the first movement, but the scherzo's will-o'-the-wisp lightness and Adagio's soulful longing were fully and lovingly conveyed, as were the bittersweet qualities of the finale.
For conductor Sakari Oramo and the CBSO it was a particularly successful evening.
Oramo's convincingly Elgarian support in the concerto, so different to his technical tour de force management of the Anderson pieces, reached its apotheosis in a wonderfully vivid account of Scheherazade, section principals and the orchestra as a whole once again demonstrating how lucky we are to have such great talent currently on our doorstep.