Spectacularly appointed music director-elect of the CBSO after just one short concert behind closed doors with the orchestra, Andris Nelsons set out his stall in great style in his first-ever officially scheduled public concert with them.
An enthusiastic audience had the opportunity to relish his deep-rooted operatic background, his advocacy of composers from his native Baltic region, his interest in contemporary music, and his respect for composers of the recent past.
Even privileged unofficial listeners have never witnessed Nelsons as a concerto accompanist, so it was a thrill to hear how attentively and sympathetically he collaborated with the great trumpeter Hakan Hardenberger in the UK premiere of ...miramondo multiplo... by the Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth.
Unstinting in his generous virtuosity, with an almost ventriloquist-like projection from his piccolo and "normal" instruments, Harden-berger was alert to every facet of this five-movement work, with its references to Handel, Miles Davis (brilliantly), Stephen Sondheim, and others. But it was its central movement, with no external baggage, which gripped the most.
A Piazzola encore set a delicious seal on this moving collaboration between three trumpeters (soloist, concerto composer and conductor).
Fratres, by the Estonian Arvo Part, its hymn-like string chanting reminiscent of Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia, but with skeletal percussion punctuating, cast a mesmeric spell before Nelsons' fulsome attack into Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony.
This was delivered with a power feasible only in this hall, yet there were also some delicate solos, woodwind to the fore, to relish. The over-riding feature here was Nelsons' capacity to sustain tension over brooding lines and his infectious delight in perky rhythmic sleights of hand.
And Richard Strauss' Rosenkavalier Suite was a delight of decadent deliciousness, surging and surely balanced.