Much acclaimed at its Lichfield Festival premiere last July, the Oboe Concerto by composer John Joubert confirmed its stature as a major addition to the repertoire in a vibrant performance from Orchestra of the Swan under David Curtis.
The still youthfully vital octogenarian Joubert seems to have got inside the very skin of this idiosyncratic instrument, and Virginia Shaw, a soloist of personality and commitment responded skilfully to all the facets of his probing writing, skittish, rhetorical, and gorgeously lyrical by turns.
There are fleeting moments of autumnal resignation (Strauss, too, was 80 when he wrote his own Oboe Concerto), and passages of limpid beauty which recall the opening of Walton's Cello Concerto. And throughout there is the genuine engagement of a composer who doesn't know the meaning of note-spinning.
Though South African-born, Joubert has long been an honorary Englishman, well at home in the company of the composers who completed this attractive programme of string music.
OOTS' mere 17 players made a beefy, athletic sound in Elgar's splendid Introduction and Allegro, given with gripping immediacy under Curtis' beat which delivered clarity rather than "interpretative" nonsense. This was a performance which displayed the quality of every player in this remarkable orchestra.
Holst's St Paul's Suite came over as bracing and open-air, but with plenty of dynamic subtlety, too. In this lean complement, the "Intermezzo" revealed more strongly than ever its links with Bartok, like Holst an avid collector of folksongs.
Finally came Britten's Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge, generous and warm-blooded, and with details - the strumming accompaniment to the "Aria Italiana", the spectral subtext to the "Wiener Walzer" - which underlined the music's sophisticated brilliance.