By Daniel Buckwalter

It was a night rich in exquisite foreboding, melodic passages as well as muscular and precise playing that ultimately was enriching.

It also was a night triumph for the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, its guest conductor Vinay Parameswaran with guest pianist Drew Peterson on April 18, which received several ovations from a deeply appreciative audience at Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall.

It was a refined and gratifying program that served up music from the masters — Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and the iconic and challenging Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique) by Pyotr Tchaikovsky — as well as a composition from a new voice, Nina Shekar, a 29-year-old Native American who composed the meditative Lumina, the first piece in the program.

There were light moments, moodiness, and vibrancy throughout the night, starting with Lumina.

A short piece, only 11 minutes, Lumina starts slowly, softly, almost eerily. There’s a delicacy to the start. Shadows seem to be everywhere.

The piece almost can’t be heard in the beginning, but as more instruments join in, it becomes apparent that Shekar, in a program note is exploring “the spectrum of light and dark and the murkiness in between.”

Of particular beauty in the piece is the play of the first violin, by concertmaster Searmi Park. It is mournful, almost heartbreaking and adds to the piece what Shekar explains “captures sudden bursts of radiance among the eeriness of shadows.”

The four-movement Liszt piano concerto followed, and Peterson, the pianist, was masterful. He was engaging and in command throughout, burrowing in on the third movement (it looked as if his forehead may touch the keyboard) and bringing the concerto to a rousing close with the powerful fourth movement.

After a well-deserved standing ovation, Peterson changed emotional direction for his encore piece with the melodic and touching Clair de Lune (Moonlight), based on a poem written by French poet Parl Verlaine in 1869. That poem is the inspiration for Claude Debussy’s four-movement Suite Bergamasque. It was a touching end to the first half of the program.

After intermission came the resounding and solemn Pathétique symphony, completed in 1893 and Py0tr Tchaikovsky’s final completed symphony. He conducted the debut of the symphony in Russia in late 1893, only nine days before his death.

It’s a well-known and compelling symphony, yet it never fails to inspire. And on this night, Parameswaran and the Eugene Symphony gave the four-movement masterpiece the stirring play it deserved before the faithful.

It starts with the foreboding play of a single bassoonist— Ben Greanya. It is a slow and dark movement. The bassoon play morphs into a nervous theme of violins and is punctuated by strong fanfares by trumpets. Then, silence, until muted violins and cellos begin a second theme.

The second movement is known for its change of pace. There’s almost a toe-tapping quality to it that is iconic. Equally iconic is the explosive and joyous third movement, and more than one reviewer over the years has noted that, however well the audience may know Symphony No. 6, inevitably the audience will stand and roar its approval at the movement’s end, perhaps forgetting there’s still one more movement to go.

It almost happened again, but Parameswaran and the symphony went right to work on the final movement. The finale is anything but joyous. It is sad and haunting, slow and sorrowful, filled with melancholy and anguish. It ends with the music gradually fading out, a lingering and despairing conclusion.

And well worth the standing ovation Parameswaran and the Eugene Symphony richly deserved.

It was a triumphant night.