The Proms at… Cadogan Hall series (why the dot, dot, dot?) got underway with an impressive performance of Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat major by the Calidore String Quartet (from California – the name pointing towards their origins in the ‘golden state’), joined by Spanish pianist Javier Perianes. But the programme began with three movements for string quartet by the American composer Caroline Shaw, two of which were world premières. Each of the eight chamber Proms concerts from Cadogan Hall this year will feature new works by women, all under 45, none of whom have been previously commissioned by the BBC, marking the 100thanniversary of some women in the UK winning the right to vote. Given the range of performers, including string quartet, voices, percussion, harpsichord and even oud, this promises to be a fascinating showcase for women and contemporary chamber music, and today’s performance of Shaw’s three Essays was a great start.

Caroline Shaw, the youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013, has developed a close working relationship with the Calidore String Quartet, and having composed her first piece for them in 2016, First Essay: Nimrod, she has now added two more pieces to this: Second Essay: Echo and Third Essay: Ruby, both of which were premiered here today. The First took language and words, particularly the work of writer Marilynne Robinson, as its inspiration, but the turmoil of the 2016 US Presidential Election also had an influence, according to Shaw. Shaw places a lyrical cello line, played here with warmth by Estelle Choi, amongst increasingly chattering interjections from the other instruments. There are many musical ideas here, and Shaw moves seamlessly from one to the next. The harmonic language is accessible, and a Copland-esque viola and cello duet with winding accompaniment from the violins is followed by a faster rhythmic pulse, the violins now birdlike, and the movement climaxes with more than a whiff of the Baroque, although not as much turmoil as the inspiration might have suggested.

Echo begins with creaky-door scrapings sliding into a sequence of consonant chords. Again, Shaw is prolific with her ideas here, the chords becoming increasingly mysterious, with added glassy timbres and use of harmonics, before the simple consonant chords bring this slow movement to a close. Ruby has a similar simple chordal opening, but Shaw takes the idea of sliding between chords that she used in Nimrod and extends this. Rocking pizzicato rhythms, fragments of melody and hints of the Baroque once again all make for a movement with constant interest. The Calidores gave us highly polished and convincing performances here, providing a strong platform for Shaw’s imaginative writing.

Schumann’s Piano Quintet, the first to place the piano alongside the string quartet (as opposed to violin, viola, cello and double bass), was a product of his so-called year of chamber music, 1842, which produced his three string quartets, a piano trio and piano quartet, as well as the quintet. It is an open, heart-on-sleeve work, full of life and exuberance, and right from the joyous opening onwards, the Calidores, now joined by Spanish pianist Javier Perianes, grabbed hold of the energy in this music and flew with it.

Schumann often makes use of a rippling piano background, with melodic interest in the string quartet foreground, and Perianes blended warm support with the Calidores’ tone. In the funeral march of the second movement, Perianes presents his part simply, with all the dark portent in the violins. The march could have been allowed a little more space, particularly noticeable on its return after the beautifully lyrical first episode. In the more turbulent second episode, the viola melody was a little out-flanked by the fervent tremolos from his colleagues. But all players had great fun with the lively third movement, a constant battle between the instruments of rapid up and down scales. Here, Perianes’ bright and nimble runs were matched by infectious energy from the string players. In the slightly more rustic second trio, the first violinist, Jeffrey Meyers, clearly took delight in the offbeat rhythms, almost managing to dance in his chair.

The finale is a masterpiece of structure, Schumann bringing back ideas from earlier, and his fugal climax is a wondrous combination of the main theme here and the first movement’s main theme. The Calidores and Perianes communicated the splendour of Schumann’s creativity here, bringing proceedings to a joyous conclusion.