The decisive moment went something like this: Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin - who became instant friends when she interviewed him on a Metropolitan Opera HD simulcast - hatched a plan for her to open the Philadelphia Orchestra's three-week Paris Festival this Thursday with Songs of the Auvergne.
Lucky for Philadelphia Orchestra guest conductors they don't know what's come before them. Gianandrea Noseda might have hesitated to program Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 had he known he would have to live up to the indelible imprint left on this piece by Simon Rattle three years back. But by the end of his Friday concert in his weekend-after-Thanksgiving series, Noseda performed the symphony with different-but-equal conceptual strengths.
David Patrick Stearns is a classical music critic and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.