The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has programmed some interesting and challenging music over the last month. The first was the Nielsen Symphony No. 5. This symphony is not often heard in US concert halls but its performance in Atlanta enabled concertgoers to hear something that is a bit edgier than Nielsen’s contemporaries Rachmaninov, Sibelius, Elgar, etc. It was a good choice also to counterbalance the sometimes syrupy Grieg concerto that was also on the program. Maestro Spano also presented a new staging of the Bach St. Matthew Passion. While I only say the first half, I appreciated a presentation that was more than four soloists sitting in front of the orchestra. It was not cutting edge music theater but it was a new direction for an old work. Thanks to the ASO and Mr. Spano for this kind of new and challenging programming.