Kuchl was in the concert master's chair to voice the exotic fables of Sheherazade in a beautiful rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov's suite. Valery Gergiev essentially turned on the ignition and let this superior motor roll. At times it broke the speed limit but mostly it cruised, wind soloists spinning out the improvisatory arabes-ques as if they were rivals for the Sultana's favours.
The corporate élan was no less impressive. Rossini's William Tell overture threw up the requisite rosin dust in the gallop; Debussy's l'Après-midi d'un faune was cool and limpid, the Montreal Symphony's principal flautist Timothy Hutchins grazing languorously; and the brass choir were Wagner's Meistersingers. And I never thought I'd hear an orchestra of this calibre play Eric Coates's endearingly cheesy "Knightsbridge March" with such conviction. World peace suddenly seemed possible.
Gianandrea Noseda's performance of Verdi's Requiem was inspiring, with an imperative sense of direction and phrasing. There were few of the indulgences that often pass for drama: rubato was minimal, portamento sparing among the soloists. All were Italian, and showed effortless blending. Soprano and mezzo, Barbara Frittoli and Daniela Barcellona, worked seamlessly in tandem; Giuseppe Filianoti, the tenor, seemed tight, though there was freshness in his words; and the excellent bass Ferruccio Furlanetto introduced a real whiff of the theatre. Full-blooded, incisive work by the BBC Symphony Chorus, City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus and BBC Philharmonic left little to be desired.