Total enchantment may have been slightly compromised for some the Winter Magic concert, when Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra announced that the indisposed Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan would not be playing Shostakovich's Second Concerto.
However, taking its place, as an Austrian outsider in an all-Russian programme, was Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, a work that deals out its own brand of beguilement.
Giordano Bellincampi is just the musical sorcerer to ensnare us here, juggling Schubert's passion and lyricism on a knife edge, moulding shapely melodies with expressive hands, yet not holding back when stern Beethovenian blasts cut across them.
Sofia Gubaidulina's Fairytale Poem had opened the concert, the composer finding all the dreams, hopes and fears of her life within the Czech fairy story that inspired the piece.
Written in 1971, when Gubaidulina was an alternative and harassed voice in the Soviet Union, its fantastical world of shimmering colours burst upon us, with shivery string clusters, a bopping jazzy fugue and a spectacularly wild climax.
These were 10 spellbound minutes that made one lament that such a major contemporary composer is virtually unrepresented in our concert halls.
While Gubaidulina's magic was dispensed by a relatively small orchestra, our wizardly maestro filled the stage to unleash the full splendour of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony.
Its ominous fanfare over, Bellincampi fashioned the Russian's massive first movement into a gripping saga, compulsively building up tensions and revealing rhythmic subtleties not always brought out by other conductors.
The mood of the elegiac second movement was exquisitely set by Bede Hanley's sinuous oboe, while pizzicato strings and dashing woodwind revelled in their virtuosity, side by side, in the third.
The roar and fury of Tchaikovsky's finale mark it as one of the great symphonic cris de coeur. Some years ago American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas likened its defiance to the American singer Prince, wanting to party like it's 1999. Without a synthesiser in sight, the APO did just that.
What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Thursday, June 30