The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Edo de Waart's second selection of masterworks on Saturday rewarded a well-filled town hall with music that strayed for only eight minutes from the Teutonic straight and narrow.

Despite programme notes telling us that Lilburn's Festival Overture was replete with patriotic fervour and evoked vast landscape, I prefer the composer's description of it as the flexing of new-found orchestral muscles.

This certainly registered in de Waart's bright and breezy trip through a pleasant but minor Lilburn score, quite a few notches below his other more popular overtures.

Brahms' Double Concerto works well when its soloists have a relationship beyond the concert stage and Nicola Benedetti and Leonard Elschenbroich invested it with their own emotional vibrancy.

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After interval, de Waart's Eroica Symphony was not overtly heroic, reflecting his respect for the searching, inner depths of the Beethoven work.

In the first movement, there was restraint, while the second movement's funeral march was more than ever the core of the piece.

De Waart kept grand gestures to a minimum, which meant the ensuing scherzo was closer to Berlioz's vision of it as funeral games, darkened by the sounds of death.

What: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Where: Auckland Town Hall

When: Saturday