The second of five concerts in the (deep breath) Autumn 2013 International Music Seminar Prussia Cove Open Chamber Music Tour saw the musicians giving their all for a BBC Radio 3 recording at the acoustically sensitive St George’s Bristol.

It’s not often that you see such an age range among musicians taking to the stage. For some reason and all too often, generations of musicians seem to stay separate, but at Prussia Cove they combined together to create a unique voice for this tour. The sound came from a mixture of different techniques and levels of experience – some with 30 years and others with three or four – and set itself into a wonderful blend. It’s probably because the aim of IMS Prussia Cove is to explore the depth of the interpretation of classical music in an unpressured environment, allowing the musicians to develop individually.

The opening piece, Schubert’s Overture for String Quartet in C minor, D.8a struggled to engage my attention, perhaps from a minor technical error of flashing lights over the audience, which was swiftly dealt with. Once resolved, I found my attention captured by violinist James Clark. With over 30 years in his musical career, it was clear he was a man of confidence and experience. He wasn’t afraid to take his time to cue the start of each piece to ensure the openings were neither rushed nor lost. His placement of his bow on the strings was quick and precise whilst providing a mellow and broad sound. It’s easy to see why Clark has been leader of so many big-name orchestras and gives classes in leadership skills. He had command of the chamber group in each piece, and performed and played effortlessly. There were points in the Schubert where to piano felt a little bright, but with increased dynamic from the strings soon cancelled out the imbalance.

Romanian-born pianist Herbert Schuch gave an impressively playful performance, whilst being careful not to upstage the other instruments. He shined in both Brahms’ Trio in E flat major for horn, violin and piano, Op. 40 and Fauré’s Piano Quartet no. 2 in G minor, Op. 45. In the latter, there was a moment with cellist Steven Doane where both piano and cello were playing against each other, creating luscious countermelodies out of the main theme. Doane’s vibrato allowed the cello to sing with a dulcet tone.

Who knows why Mozart wrote horn pieces quite so fast, but Alec Frank-Gemmill showed real mastery of his instrument. I have sadly witnessed all too many orchestras recently where the horns have been the designated weak section and ruined rather crucial opening melodies, but Frank-Gemmill had strong control over his instrument. Frank-Gemmill’s tone was rounded and full, projecting happily to the back of the hall where I was seated. Sure, there was the odd wrong note, but in such a challenging piece, it didn’t matter so much. Frank-Gemmill’s performance would have perhaps been brought more to life if he had been more dynamic on stage. This was more of a problem in the Brahms trio because he was more exposed on stage, but for the Finale the trio got into the swing of things, with Brahms’ punchy rhythms culminating in a successful ending.

The show-stopper of the evening for me was the Fauré quartet. It got less applause from the audience, who really stomped and cheered after the Brahms trio, but finished the evening on a warmer note. Although an impressive feat of horn excellency, the Mozart didn’t show the wonderful chamber group off to their full potential in the same way as the Fauré. The colourful opening chords made full use of the hall’s acoustics and saw all of the musicians individual voices and styles working fantastically together.

All in all, this was a memorable night of music-making. Just as a dessert leaves a sweet taste, this left pleasant melodies echoing in the ears.