What better entrée could a concert have than an early Haydn symphony?
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra proved the point with the composer's 21st, a key work in his remarkable symphonic development. Conductor Giordano Bellincampi gave every note give its due, from the infinite precision of the Adagio to the irrepressible momentum of a Presto.
There were memorable moments in Chloe Hanslip's performance of Mozart's K 219 Violin Concerto including the forthright lower register of her 1735 instrument and her spirited delivery of Robert Levin's snappy cadenzas but too often, one felt the need for more tonal caressing of its graceful melodies.
Her encore was as stylish as it was unexpected, enlisting concertmaster Andrew Beer for a duo Gavotte by the Frenchman Jean-Marie Leclair.
After interval, Brahms' Second Symphony was a revelation, a testament to the finely tuned sensibilities and thoroughness of Bellincampi, the APO's music director.
His ability to sculpt phrases, from the very opening page, ensured a cohesion that never lapsed. Cellos sang in unison and there was a visceral brio in charged rhythmic passages - so exhilarating that the traditional repeat playing would have been welcomed.
The sometimes elusive lyricism of the Adagio was allowed to bloom while the finale's almost runaway exuberance shared here and there some of the paprika from the composer's Hungarian dances.
What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall