Tuesday saw Sakari Oramo and the CBSO chalk up yet another triumph in their rewarding series exploring little-known British music.
It was in fact by far the most famous work on offer, Elgar's alternately breezy and tender Cockaigne Overture, which emerged as slightly the least successful in performance. The players certainly relished its generous opportunities (the composer dedicated it to "my friends the members of British orchestras"), but Oramo does underplay some moments where a Boultian surge would be appropriate. And omitting the organ at the end was a missed opportunity.
But then came a marvel both in terms of content and execution: John Foulds' Dynamic Triptych, a piano concerto in all but name, and a heady mix of influences, anticipations and western/eastern modes.
The idea of combining a noteasilydetunable piano with sliding string quarter-tones in the central movement might appear unwieldy, but in fact the collision of these two soundworlds worked tellingly.
Peter Donohoe was the formidable soloist, almost brutally powerful but also neat in articulation, in this first public hearing of the piece in over 70 years, and Oramo and his enthusiastic players collaborated brilliantly. It is good to know a CD is planned in the New Year (and the BBC recorded the concert, too).
Frank Bridge's There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook, a fine little example of pastoral expressionism featuring outstandingly delicate interplay between oboe and violins, preceded another tour de force in a gritty yet sensitive reading of Vaughan Williams' Symphony no.9.
The compositional strength of this powerful work would be remarkable at any age, but 85 is staggering. RVW imagined such communicative sounds from his saxophone trio, vividly conveyed here along with the rest of the firmly-drawn scoring. Smiles all round at the end.