One of the more attractive features of the Sommets Musicaux festival is the series of concerts in Gstaad chapel, each given by a young musician who has been spending the week attending classes, with a mentor – in this case, Mario Brunello – and each including a world première written by the festival’s composer in residence – this year, it’s the turn of Nicolas Bacri.

This year focuses on the cello, and today’s concert featured Swiss cellist Sayaka Selina playing a mixed programme of Romantic and modern works, accompanied by German pianist Mathis Bereuter.

The pair were at their best in the core Romantic repertoire. The Brahms Cello sonata no. 1 in E minor was rendered with real feel, and, in the final movement Allegro, some panache. In Selina and Bereuter’s safe hands, Brahms’s spirited first movement could pick us up and carry us along with its energy as it rapidly shifts keys, timbre and tempo. Selina achieved a fine command of line, which served her well as the elegant cantabile of the second movement came through lilt and beauty, leading up to the fireworks of the third.

Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, Op.70, which closed the programme, was equally proficient. Selina had made a wise choice of accompanist: not only was Bereuter clear and precise in playing the notes, but he contributed hugely to the lilt and atmosphere of these romantic works. He’s going to be a talent to watch for the future.

The newest work played, the première of the Berceuse (lullaby) from Nicolas Bacri’s Quatre élégies, Op. 127, also falls into the Romantic category: it’s subtitled “homage to Brahms” and its stylistic links to the Brahms sonata were clear. Of course, Bacri is writing in the twenty-first century and therefore uses a number of harmonies unknown to nineteenth century Vienna, but that doesn’t stop this short piece from catching Brahms’ lyricism and ability to create a mood of blissful inner calm. Bacri will have been thrilled by the performance, I guess: this is a fine opportunity both for young musicians to work with an established composer to play a première of his music and for the composer to see that music disseminated to younger performers.

Selina was less successful in her more modern repertory. The Debussy Cello sonata in D minor was quirky and interesting, but never really consuming, and Krzysztof Penderecki’s 1994 Divertimento for solo cello seemed focused on the performer rather than the audience, studying a wide variety of different instrumental effects without making them into any statement that was coherent to my ears. Perhaps it's a work that appeals more to cellists.

But for an encore, Selina and Bereuter gave us great entertainment with a modern work: Swiss composer Thomas Demenga’s 1987 New York Honk, a delicious mixture of fragments of old-time jazz, train noises and sounds of the city, produced by a barrage of gliassandi, pizzicati, broken rhythms and all manner of other effects. It put a smile on all our faces as we left Gstaad chapel.