It was unnecessary and regrettable, particularly when extended to the notion of the performance as "musical football match", and calling upon the audience to vote for a "winner" at the end. Strip all that nonsense away and you were simply left with a perfectly enjoyable evening of interesting music.
There is much to like about the group's refreshing approach and their choice of programme here was admirably wide-ranging, with a gratifying buoyancy and directness to their performance. Walton's Sonata For Strings was a lovely opener, with the ensemble (under leader Jonathan Morton's energetic direction) maintaining excellent rhythmic tightness in the scurrying outer movements whilst fully conveying the wistful melancholy of the central Lento section.
To follow was a superb rendition of Martin Suckling's four Short Stories "postcards" - sublimely conceived mini-masterpieces whose dense yet somehow delicate, fragile construction was painstakingly rendered with marvellously sustained intensity.
The second half opened with Leopold Hurt's darkly playful Dead Reckoning - another exercise in textural variety, plaintive shards of dissonance jostling with haunting drones and warped sea shanties - and all played with inspiring assurance.
To close was Brahms's String Quintet No. 2, here expanded by Morton to accommodate 16 performers, resulting in a pleasingly orchestral sound that felt entirely appropriate to the composer's lush romantic melodies. With the concert over, we came to the inevitable vote - in which I abstained, the only obvious "winner" being great music beautifully performed, which joyfully exists outwith all national boundaries.