The Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin is roaming around its hometown this season with a series of chamber music concerts in unexpected places: classical trios played in the shadow of the Charlottenburg Palace, a brass quintet found amongst the archaeological treasures of the Pergamon Museum. In a former ballroom in the up-and-coming Neukölln district, the orchestra’s chamber ensemble presented an eccentric programme of music by oddballs and outcasts.

Composing in Soviet Russia after the Second World War, Sofia Gubaidulina was blacklisted by the communist authorities. Being musically modernist – and devoutly religious – behind the Iron Curtain was a risky business, but she continued to write regardless. It wasn’t until the 1980s, and the international fame that followed the première of her Offertorium for Gidon Kremer, that she found the recognition she deserved. For this concert, the DSO chose an early work, Five Etudes for Harp, Double Bass and Percussion, written in 1965. These are quirky pieces, studies in name and character – but still full of a quiet, burning intensity – which were modestly performed by the DSO musicians.

Giacinto Scelsi is one of the more bizarre figures of 20th-century music. Born in 1905, Scelsi was an Italian count and self-taught musician with a propensity for mysticism. In his music he took the avant-garde to radical extremes. Many of his works use just one tone: in Okanagon, composed in 1968, he stretches to three; guttural bass tones struck in unison by harp, double bass and gong. Repeated with little variation for the best part of 10 minutes, this is a taxing work that was just about kept together by the DSO players. Tough and uncompromising, Scelsi’s music still challenges, nearly 50 years on.

The centrepiece of the evening was a tribute to Henri Dutilleux, in what would have been his 100th birthday year. As a French modernist he is often overshadowed by Boulez and Messiaen – he lies between them in age, but trod his own path artistically. By the end of his improbably long life – he died in 2013, aged 97 – he was justly celebrated for his gorgeous orchestral writing and harmonic imagination. The DSO performed two chamber works that bookend his career. The Sonata for Oboe and Piano, composed in 1947, was one of Dutilleux’s first works. This refined, occasionally jocular piece was given a sweetness by oboist Thomas Hecker. It belies the influence of Debussy, Ravel as well as Stravinsky, but there are moments of brave shimmering beauty that prefigure his later work. Les Citations is a more enigmatic piece: its instrumentation – oboe, harpsichord, double bass and percussion – creates a steely aloofness; its first movement is short and elliptical. In the second, a mechanical harpsichord figure, played with exactitude by Anna Kirichenko, gives way to a jazz-influenced drum and bass duet. This is compelling stuff, but seemed a little unsynchronised and disjointed from the conductorless DSO ensemble.

To conclude, three tangos by Astor Piazzolla, in his own way an outcast. Although a giant of tango music, the Argentine bandoneon player and composer is marginalised in concert performance as a writer of popular music. In fact, his ‘Nuevo tango’, inspired by techniques from jazz and classical music, has a harmonic richness and sophistication. Nevertheless, here his works represented the chance for light relief. Kicho, especially, was rip-roaring, foot-stomping fun, as well was a tour de force showcase for the double bass, played with gusto by Ander Perrino Cabello.