Many orchestras undertaking a programme with the word Danube in the title would simply dish out musical bonbons by the Strauss family.
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's On the Danube concert on Thursday settled on a single Strauss waltz as overture: one of the second Johann's finest, On the Beautiful Blue Danube.
The elegant sweep of it all under Giordano Bellincampi transported us to a glittering Viennese ballroom. I was transfixed by the tingling anticipation of string tremolo, the flickering grace notes of its famous tune and the occasional bolder-than-usual holding back of the tempo.
New Zealand violinist Benjamin Morrison is based in Vienna, where he plays in the Vienna Philharmonic, giving him special credentials to take on the once derided "Hollywood Concerto" by Austrian-American movie composer Erich Korngold.
Bellincampi laid out the lushest of musical shagpiles under Morrison's soaring first theme in the opening movement — not the only melody that once accompanied Errol Flynn on the big screen.
Constantly shifting time signatures created a buoyancy that supported the soloist's virtuosic flurries, continuing through the second movement, as Morrison sweetly ventured into the stratosphere.
Korngold's firebrand finale ended the work in a mood of swashbuckling bravado. We were rewarded with an encore, Morrison's own sonorous if not overly adventurous arrangement of "Pokarekare Ana", which inspired murmuring singalong in the hall.
After the interval, that rarity, a Mahler miniature — the Blumine movement dropped from his first symphony — was exquisitely laid out, almost seeming at times to be a vehicle for the clear and unerringly focused trumpet of Huw Dann.
Dvorak was much taken with the "marvellous melodies" of Brahms' Third Symphony, and tonight Bellincampi did all of them full justice, particularly in the work's lingering poco allegretto.
The ebullient maestro also pursued the dance-like spirit of its opening movement with its swinging syncopations, as well as more poised andante formalities, all rounded off with an adrenalin-laced finale that was maybe a tad too much so for comfort.
What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Where: Auckland Town Hall.