Listeners probably thought they knew what they were getting at the Philadelphia Orchestra's Thursday opening concert of its 2015 Europe tour here. But after guest soloist Lisa Batiashvili played a hot Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, she and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin regrouped in the rear of the stage where the piano was parked. They played Tchaikovsky.
The two had cooked it up in Philadelphia before leaving on tour, choosing the first of the composer's Six Romances Op. 6 ("Do Not Believe, My Friend"), which they had recorded together a few years ago - in what felt more like a spontaneous gift to the audience than a typical encore. It was also a moment of repose near the end of what hadn't been the easiest day. "It has a big personality, this hall," Nézet-Séguin told the orchestra at the morning rehearsal. "I love it, but . . . it doesn't just let you play."