If you feel that you haven't sufficiently paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth since her death, the Minnesota Orchestra is presenting a particularly British program this weekend.

On the podium is Scottish conductor Sir Donald Runnicles, who was among the last knights upon whom she conferred the honor, having done so in 2020. And half of the music is from England, Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" doubly so, for Tallis was something like the country's national composer back in the Renaissance era. Add Edward Elgar's "In the South" and you have a vivid musical snapshot of post-Victorian England, when the country was asserting itself as a hotbed of creative composers.

Both were played extraordinarily well at Thursday's midday Orchestra Hall concert. Runnicles clearly has strong interpretive ideas for those works, and the Minnesota Orchestra did fine things with them, particularly in creating the kind of lush, thick string textures favored by both Vaughan Williams and Elgar.

But it wasn't all English, and the concert was the better for it. If you're frightened away by the name Alban Berg, know that the experimentalist of the Second Viennese School was in his early 20s when he wrote his "Seven Early Songs," and they're deeply influenced by the tonality and full-bodied orchestrations of Richard Strauss. On Thursday, they were interpreted with expressive warmth by American soprano Jacquelyn Stucker.

And a work from over a century later, American composer Carlos Simon's "An Elegy: A Cry from the Grave," proved a fine complement, as it's a heavy-hearted work that carries echoes of Vaughan Williams' often sorrowful "Fantasia."

It's a quite rewarding program, albeit constructed a bit strangely. In starting with the Vaughan Williams work, Runnicles and the orchestra immediately plunged listeners into a deeply emotional reverie. Inspired by antiphonal church music of Tallis' era, it features an ensemble of nine echoing the lines of the larger orchestra and a string quartet of soloists stepping forth for intimate exchanges, with violist Jenni Seo and violinist Erin Keefe engaging in involving conversations. Runnicles' emphasis on dynamic contrast set a high bar for the rest of the concert to transcend.

And it never really did, although the Berg songs and the Simon piece were both quite involving, as well. Stucker exhibited a rich, full tone throughout her range — and Berg asked her to use all of it. While I felt the orchestra overwhelmed her at points in the cycle's first and last songs, the soft ballads at the center, "The Nightingale" and "A Crown of Dreams," were breathtakingly beautiful.

Simon's "Elegy" was performed by a much smaller group of the orchestra's strings in 2021, and what then seemed a work of quiet intimacy was lent extra urgency by 50 string players. It again proved a powerful piece, but the mood was shattered by the Wagnerian opening gallops of Elgar's "In the South." In fact, that piece seemed too light a finale for a concert with so much gravitas and emotional depth.

While it was another case in which a soft slow section at its center was the best part — violist Seo was again a key contributor — the work was way too bombastic to fit with all the sad beauty before it.

Minnesota Orchestra

With: Conductor Donald Runnicles and soprano Jacquelyn Stucker.

What: Works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Alban Berg, Carlos Simon and Edward Elgar.

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Where: Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.

Tickets: $20-$89, available at 612-371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org.

Rob Hubbard is a Twin Cities classical music writer. Reach him at wordhub@yahoo.com.