It was a match immediately made in heaven: the CBSO, Andris Nelsons and his violinist compatriot Baiba Skride.
They came together on that heady weekend in September 2007 when the sizzling chemistry between Nelsons and the players forged one of the most envied conductor/orchestra relationships in the world, and when they were joined by Skride in Symphony Hall for a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto which has been greeted with huge acclaim.
On Saturday it was the turn of another Russian concerto, dark and bitter, the Shostakovich no.1. Suppressed and sombre, then bursting into manic activity, it demands from Skride huge efforts of sustained concentration and superhuman physical energy, and she supplied both in abundance.
Her command of line was well sustained, and her virtuosity spectacular – but always at the service of this tremendous score. And her empathy with her old school-chum Nelsons and his wonderful band was effortless.
Nelsons and the CBSO scored a triumph at last year’s Proms with Stravinsky’s complete Firebird, which they repeated on Saturday with a tremendous attention to texture and colour, the drama thereby emerging naturally. Nelsons’ conducting was appropriately balletic, but never superfluous.
And it was a brilliant idea to precede this with Liadov’s Kikimora, a tiny tone-poem also based on a Russian folk-tale and glittering with detail. Some gestures here looked forward to Firebird, but scarcely surprisingly, as both Liadov and Stravinsky (who was commissioned to write Firebird after Liadov proved too lazy to complete it) were both pupils of that great orchestrator, Rimsky-Korsakov.