Many of us in a packed Symphony Hall on Tuesday had probably never heard of the City of Granada Orchestra.
Hardly surprising, since this is an ensemble founded as recently as 1990.
But though these 2000 listeners had obviously been drawn by the attractive Mediterranean programme (all 20th-century works, I might add), I'm sure we all departed with a very high regard for these gifted young players, bursting with personality and discreetly marshalled by their new chief conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow.
As befits a Spanish orchestra, rhythms were tautly driven and instrumental solos were eloquently delivered (a fabulous principal oboe, an expressive cor anglais, a pungent trombone and a busy double-bass were just a few among the noteworthy examples).
Kantorow, himself a vastly experienced violinist, understands the needs of orchestral players, so his beat is neat and economical, if occasionally hard-driven. In Stravinsky's delicious Pulcinella Suite he dovetailed the movements adroitly, alert to all the melting neoclassicism of this delightful score.
Marco Socias' guitar brought a mellow, cello-like tone as soloist in Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, the orchestra collaborating with pointed, almost Coplandesque phrasing. But we have heard this piece too often: instead, Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain for piano and orchestra would have brought the icing on the cake.
We did hear some Falla, however, his ballet El Amor Brujobringing the immense talents of flamenco singer Carmen Linares, throaty and world-worn, and dancer Natalia Ferrandiz, swirling and imperious as she strutted above the orchestra.
Ravel's quintessentially cool French Tombeau de Couperin seemed a strange inclusion, but Kantorow's reading found a communicative balance between solo instruments and accompanying orchestra.
<b>Christopher Morley </b>