So who was the real hero of this concert? Pianist John Lill, replacement conductor Kees Bakels or composer Johannes Brahms? Truth is they were all heroes.
No musician is less showy than Lill – and none more rigorous of intellect, more deep and delicate in tone, more precise in detail and more aware of the long view.
How keen was his interplay with soloists within the orchestra in Brahms’s second piano concerto, and how rightly appreciative he was of Jesper Svedberg’s rich, lyrical cello in the slow movement. How ripe, too, were the horns throughout.
Bakels belied his veteran status with a high-energy account of the same composer’s second symphony. Maybe he felt Lill’s refusal to rush the concerto demanded something more visceral to follow, and that was certainly delivered.
It was partly about tempi, but also about vivid, contrasting colours – most notably, perhaps, in the playing of the BSO trombones.
In this sunniest of symphonies, they picked up the composer’s intermittent darker colourings before blazing triumphantly at the finish with their sustained D major triad.