Many years ago, after an incandescent account of Mozart's Symphony no. 40 from Sir Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Symphony Hall, I wrote in my review that this was a work which should only be heard once every ten years.
Well, that ten years is just about up, and the performance of this shattering masterpiece from the CBSO unfortunately came nowhere near that once-in-a-decade accolade. This is music as cosmic as the opening movement of Beethoven Nine, but under conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin it emerged merely as an uninvolving, spectacularly swift delivery of Mozart's perfectly-placed notes.
Somehow the pensive andante was here turned into a slow, occasionally sleazy waltz. The grinding dissonances of the ground-breaking minuet slithered by, and the finale helterskeltered into anonymity.
But there were a couple of pluses: the superlative horn-playing (will they ever put a foot wrong? not today they didn't), and the observance of exposition repeats, whatever the insights of their interpretation.
Beethoven's Egmont Overture fared equally disappointingly, certainly energetic and wiry, but noisy, and distracting in the conductor's podium-movements. The body-language of some baton-wielders (Andris Nelsons is a case in point) enhances the delivery of the music. Not so here.
But at last came music-making to catch the throat, with Elisabeth Leonskaja the amazingly gripping soloist in Brahms' First Piano Concerto. Never mind the heavy, laboured orchestral introduction, as soon as she entered the fray with her fierce, proud hands, this was a reading which plumbed the heart of this desperate music, her chording beautifully weighted, her command of dynamics eloquent and communicative. And the horns once again excelled themselves (though that, on their current form, is impossible).