Mahler's Fourth Symphony casts a spell immediately - those tinkling sleigh bells are as inviting as a fairytale's "Once upon a time".
It’s maintained to the final bars, barely whispered by the basses as the symphony subsides into silence, like a lullaby.
Who can resist a movement whose tempo is specified as “very cosy”? But its simplicity is superficial and deceptive, Mahler’s art that conceals art.
The work is full of pitfalls for the unwary or over-confident conductor – all of which Andrés Orozco-Estrada skilfully side-stepped.
All those slow tempi – “deliberate”, “leisurely” and “restful” – can subside into somnolence without due care and attention or result in a performance with grindingly audible gear changes.
Orozco-Estrada was a sure-footed guide and ensured that Mahler’s sparkling orchestration shone without unnecessary over-interpretation.
The CBSO’s wind section was magnificent and Laurence Jackson was an enchanting magic fiddler in the second movement.
The Swedish soprano Klara Ek was perfect in her depiction of the child’s vision of heaven – not arch, knowing or faux-naif – but sweet, pure-toned and utterly convincing.
Her artistry was also shown in three Mozart arias from Figaro, Idomeneo and La finta giardiniera, where beauty of tone came with distinct characterization – not always the case with young singers – no chance here of confusing the pert maidservant and the proud Trojan princess.
Mozart’s Prague symphony sometimes sounded a little soft around the edges. Orozco-Estrada emphasized its lyrical elements, with a nicely-shaped andante, but a little more of Don Giovanni-style drama, devilry and drive would have been welcome.