Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Soul of the Cello concert had Julian Steckel revealing all that and more in the Dvorak concerto.
Technical concerns were thrust aside when Steckel stormed through with his dramatic entry; soon we were in the singular, almost physical world of the Czech composer's music.
These pages seem to forge trails through the woods and fields of Dvorak's Bohemia and little wonder that Giordano Bellincampi's orchestra made much of dancing asides, around Steckel's idyllic exchanges with a host of eloquent orchestral soloists.
The evening opened with Karlo Margetic's Mainspring, dispensing a huge energy charge in just eight well-sprung minutes. Margetic's massive blasts, inspired by the Nielsen to come, made a bracing signature yet milder aftershocks also registered effectively, in gentler surroundings.
How marvellous to hear the invigorating music of Carl Nielsen in concert. The Danish composer's Second Symphony, with its sketches of the classic four temperaments, benefited from Bellincampi's strong associations with Denmark.
Although this is unassailably personal music, one does hear links with Mahler, Sibelius and Elgar, and even hints of Shostakovich, laying bare the choleric, the phlegmatic, the melancholic and the sanguine.
The outer movements took joy and exhilaration to new height, with tricky rhythms for toe-tappers, but the soul of the work - and perhaps the evening - came in melancholic mode, with Nielsen's memorably shifting but never nebulous harmonies.
What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Soul of the Cello
Where: Auckland Town Hall