Though technically a half-debut, Yannick Nézet-Séguin's first outing with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra didn't actually happen until the Sunday program's second half. But a good 80 minutes of Shostakovich - in a piece that musically encompasses much of World War II - easily counted as a concert in itself.
The Symphony No. 7 Op. 60 ("Leningrad") is just the sort of thing that's been absent from the current Philadelphia Orchestra season - a long, serious, not traditionally ingratiating piece that audiences may or may not take to, especially as it needs a performance with a well-examined strategy. Nézet-Séguin was resourceful, not with the intense probing that allowed Leonard Bernstein to unlock the music's many implications, but with sharply molded, compact sonorities and a tight tempo scheme so that the piece's better moments slowly insinuated themselves, not unlike Ravel's Bolero.