During the second half of the program, Nánási helped the symphony bring out all the majesty, whimsy and dark textures in Tchaikovsky’s wide-ranging Symphony No. 4. At the start of the symphony, the heraldic horns, which open the work with a blast of noble brass, were a bit muted, but this created even more room for a dramatic increase in both dynamics and intensity. After the stout first movement, shimmering string harmonies ushered in skip-through-the-meadow woodwind sixteenth notes, creating a starkly different sound world. The ASO’s woodwind section took the spotlight here, as in the capricious third movement, where the section answered string pizzicato questions with cheerful rejoinders.
Zoltan Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta,” the first piece on Thursday’s program, began with a strident figure in the cellos and clouds of musical effervescence in the violins, but the piece quickly became fixated on the clarinet. Laura Ardan earned the spotlight, dancing and twirling through her instrument across the entire piece. Kodaly’s “Dances” hadn’t been heard from the Symphony Hall stage in a decade, and the short, one-movement dance proved a welcome introductory piece to a night anchored by a dazzling violin performance.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with soloist David Coucheron
8 p.m. March 7. Additional performance at 8 p.m. Tonight. $22-$88. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, atlantasymphony.org.