The concert featured a chamber group based in the West Country, the Ardeton Ensemble. Sarah Eales and Rebecca Harte, violins, Rachel Johnson, viola and Dury Loveridge, cello, with guest pianist Stephen Meakins, gave a balanced and enthusiastically received programme of works by three major composers.

Beethoven’s first completed string quartet opened the evening. Already moving away from the classical constraints of Haydn and Mozart, the opening movement was played with a sure touch, the Adagio with evident emotion, the Scherzo all light and shade, and the Finale full of high spirits.

The string quartet No.8 by Shostakovich is considered by some to be his own epitaph. The opening Largo brought a chill wind from the Russian Steppes into the hall. The other movements were full of lamentation and tragedy, culminating in a final sorrowful Largo distinguished by the dedicated cello playing of Dury Loveridge.

The final work was Schumann’s piano quintet. The opening Allegro Brilliante was attacked with great energy, the Scherzo sparkled and the final Allegro proved a satisfying close to such a popular work.

Gerry Philp, 17 March 2011