The orchestra's final concert of the season started with something of awhimper but ended with abang -in the rousing final dance of Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe Suite No.2.
With such a fine performance as this my only regret was that we did not have the full ballet score rather than just the last third. Xian Zhang conducted aravishingly sensual Lever du jour, adawn scene with birds twittering, the dew shimmering and the growing warmth of the sun almost palpable.
The love scene was illuminated by exquisite liquid-toned playing from flautist Marie-Christine Zupancic while the final orgiastic dance was skilfully steered to an overwhelming sonic climax.
Much as we all love the violin concertos of Bruch, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky it was a pleasant change to hear the now seldom performed Symphonie espagnole by Edouard Lalo, a five-movement concerto in all but name.
Composed in the same year as Carmen it began the long love affair of French composers for Spanish music, to which Ravel made a significant contribution, and the dance rhythms of the habanera, malageue?a and seguidilla are the weft weaved ingeniously with a Germanic-sounding symphonic warp.
The young Canadian Karen Gomyo was an impressive soloist playing a warm-toned Stradivarius which matched the sunny dance rhythms perfectly and she gave them an individual flavour.
The finale's virtuoso effects, including some zinging pizzicato, were all cleanly articulated.
Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition started with a somnolent last-day-of-term feeling with some fragile wind and brass playing - the wheels almost came off the ox cart in Bydlo.
The strings were impressive throughout though, cellos and basses really digging into their recitative passages, and the later pictures were rendered convincingly.