In the shivering basses and eerie six-note chromatic motif that opens Stravinsky’s Funeral Song, it’s hard not to hear a foreshadowing of The Firebird’s tenebrous opening. Premiered in 1909, the year before the composer’s breakout work for Diaghilev in Paris, the Funeral Songlanguished in the recesses of the St Petersburg Conservatory Library for a century – presumed lost in the Russian Revolution – before it was discovered in 2015 when the building was being cleaned out for repairs. Written as a memorial for Stravinsky’s teacher Rimsky-Korsakov, the work received its first performance in more than a hundred years at the Mariinsky last December, and this performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Charles Dutoit, was its first ever airing in Australia.

Although the opening suggests something of Firebird, the sombre – even bleak – funeral march is simpler and more contained than the work that would shoot Stravinsky to fame in 1910, centring on an arcing chromatic figure spun through the work. This figure, as it becomes more frenzied, seems to echo a similar motif in Siegfried’s Funeral Music from Wagner’s Götterdammerung, which Stravinsky had seen with his teacher two months before Rimsky-Korsakov’s death (though Stravinsky’s later...