The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra brought out one of its 2015 stars on Saturday and was duly rewarded with a full house.
The programme, Janine Jansen plays Tchaikovsky, presented a double guarantee, with the most popular of all violin concertos played by this young Dutch woman who effortlessly justified the reputation that most know only through recordings.
It was very much a Russian night, opening with Liadov's The Enchanted Lake.
This 1909 work, exquisitely finessed by conductor Daniel Blendulf, presents its enchantment through a glass nostalgically - this gleaming picture book is very much a nineteenth-century one, curiously untouched by Liadov's contemporaries, Debussy and Scriabin.
Ending the evening, Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony of 1945 revealed a raw emotionalism that reflected the spirit of the Russian people at that time, with victory finally in view.
This "hymn to the freedom of the human spirit," as the composer tersely put it, suggests struggles are not over. Blendulf and his musicians caught this in the gruff, reluctant lyricism of the opening Andante and the glinting, spiked dangers that erupt in the second movement.
Tonight, the heart of the piece lay in its Adagio, warily pursuing a path through perilous textures.
Blendulf unleashed circuses and celebrations in the Finale, to be sure, but not until sombre memories had been voiced by sonorous cellos.
Those who profess to be jaded with Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto should have experienced Janine Jansen in full flight.
Jansen has no time for such attitudes, and showed it in a resiliently physical performance, engaged in gripping ensemble with the players around her. It was significant that those exposed virtuoso outbursts that inspire caution with some violinists, delighted in their confidence and capriciousness.
Yet when Tchaikovsky's melodies soar, her Stradivarius rose above the orchestra like a mighty sonic bird, with an especially fragile tenderness in the central Canzonetta.
After several curtain calls, Jansen's encore was the Melodie that ends Tchaikovsky's Souvenir d'un lieu cher. Little more than a sweet salon piece, tonight, with Jansen's advocacy and a persuasive orchestra behind her, it seemed so much more.
What: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Friday, March 27
Reviewer: William Dart