The cellist Natalie Clein was at the centre of this concert of Schumann’s chamber music, given as a part of the Schumann bicentenary celebrations at Kings Place. The programme explored works from different periods of Schumann’s creative life: two works for cello and piano from 1849, the turbulent Piano Trio No. 3 in G minor from 1851, and the joyous Piano Quartet in E flat major from 1842.

There is a lovely lightness and tenderness to Natalie Clein’s playing which makes her an ideal interpreter of Schumann’s music. In the three Fantasiestücke, Op. 73 for cello and piano, she captured the flowing lyricism of the music as well as the underlying darker, introspective moments. The two pieces from 5 Stücke in Volkston, also for cello and piano, were played with lots of character, bringing out the contrasts in rhythms and mood. The second piece in particular highlighted Clein’s resonant higher register. As in Schumann’s lieder, the piano plays a vital role in these works, and the pianist Katya Apekisheva played with great feeling for Schumann’s style.

Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 3 is a relatively late work, and its sudden outbursts and mood swings are often described as symptoms of the composer’s madness. Here the two players were joined by the violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky who lead in an articulate manner. At times, one wished for more gravitas from the cello in the bass range to give harmonic support. On the whole, I felt that the performance had plenty of imaginative playing from all three, but the music didn’t quite take flight.

In contrast, the four musicians really came together in Schumann’s sunnier Piano Quartet. Following the slow introduction, the first movement was spirited and lively, although the tempo may have been a little too fast for Allegro ma non troppo. There was some untidy ensemble in the Scherzo but this was more than compensated by a perfectly judged slow movement. Clein’s cello entry was all the more moving for its understatement, and later on, Krzysztof Chorzelski repeated the soaring melody tenderly on his dark-hued viola. The finale is a tricky movement with its contrapuntal writing, but the musicians never lost energy and built up momentum to the joyous coda. Both the players and audience thoroughly enjoyed the performance, and the players responded spontaneously with a repeat of the slow movement as an encore.