The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra seemed determined to reward those who had been lured to its Transfiguration concert by one of the repertoire's most popular piano concertos.

With Wagner's Tannhauser overture closing the programme, we were immediately plunged into the full romantic drama of the celebrated Rachmaninov Second.

It can be difficult to hear this piece without being reminded of its tawdry afterlife, both on Hollywood screens and in unctuous pop ballads. However, the adrenalin dispensed in this performance dashed aside any such concerns, taking us back to what must have been a momentous 1901 premiere, with the composer as