IT doesn’t get any better than this. Ryedale’s final gala had the sensational violinist Rachel Podger leading the expert Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in an 18th century programme, including the first and last of Mozart’s five violin concertos and symphonies by Haydn and J C Bach.

Podger is your complete musician, but she is also a consummate actress and an ace communicator. Her face, body language and gestures mirror the music to a tee: you dare not take your eyes off her.

The explosions within the Allegro’s off-beat momentum in Haydn’s Symphony No 26 ("Lamentatione") set the tone for the evening. Accents were pronounced, wit and energy always to the fore, even in the flowing Trio.

The fulcrum of Mozart’s Concerto K.207 was the teasing cadenza in, of all places, the slow movement; Podger kept us waiting, as if improvising. Naturally she delivered flashing coloratura, opera-style, in the finale.

Johann Christian Bach – the so-called ‘London’ Bach – presaged the Storm and Stress of the mid-1770s in his tempestuous G minor Symphony. The OAE revelled in its bold unisons, but petered out pleasingly at the close. Pairs of oboes and horns were notably fluent.

The champagne was still to come. Podger made light of the double stops in the opening cadenza of Mozart’s Fifth Concerto, found a plaintive serenity in the central Adagio, and made us marvel at the varied returns to the rondo theme. Musical delights come no sweeter.