The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's Carnival concert certainly justified its title: an evening of exhilaration, highlighted in the flash 'n' flourish of Anna Clyne's Masquerade.
Written for the 2013 BBC Proms, this was a five-minute dodgem ride on a slippery floor. Even if some of its slickest tricks were revealed in the first few seconds, Masquerade was a spectacular showcase for both orchestra and conductor Hamish McKeich.
However, the NZSO had already revealed its customary prowess in two Ravel favourites.
La Valse was a swooping delight, shifting from decorous to delirious on a triple-time beat. This effervescent salute to the Viennese waltz has a satirical edge, which McKeich brought out in murky bassoon grumbles and extravagant climaxes.
Stephen De Pledge, a pianist with exemplary taste and chutzpah, might have been born to play Ravel's concerto. He's commented that its finale evokes Disney cartoon music for him and, from the concerto's opening ripples and glissandi, he took to it with undisguised glee, as did the musicians around him.
Yet the gentle, jazz-infused slow movement illuminated the composer's deeper soul in De Pledge's subtly shaded solo, culminating in a glorious duo with Michael Austin's lyrical cor anglais.
De Pledge is a pianist with an appreciated sense of attitude. As an encore, Debussy's Clair de Lune had its all-too-familiar bloom kept carefully in check, almost as if the spirit of the more astringent Ravel were looking over his shoulder.
Petrushka made for a suitably splendid finale, the cut and slash of its opening scene reminding us of the exciting bumps of jolts of Clyne' Masquerade.
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While Stravinsky's set pieces brought gasps of recognition and approval, rewarded by taut, incisive performances, it was the connecting musical threads that bewitched me. Here, the tragic tale was elegantly and movingly laid out for us in lop-sided waltzes, fragmented marches and poignantly dissonant fanfares that lingered long after Stravinsky's last explosive chord.