Review: Ensemble360 at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth

Experience some rarely played chamber pieces at Portsmouth Guildhall

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I swear you get more smiles to the bar in a single concert by Ensemble 360 than in a dozen by anyone else.

Certainly the performance of Beethoven’s Septet that ended this Portsmouth Chamber Music event brimmed with good humour, and the players’ delight in each other’s virtuosity as well as the music’s witty charms was infectious.

You expect wit in the scherzo but the bubbling finale was something else again, with the players’ control of dynamics absolute – down to the tiniest whisper.

Yet they had shown they could ‘do serious’ just as effectively, in a performance of Dvorak’s Piano Quintet No 2 that ranged from thrilling vibrancy to sustained melancholy.

It embraced both taut rhythmic precision and a sense of natural breathing.

At an emotional level all the players seemed to move as one, yet displayed individual artistry in every part – not least in the yearning of the viola and Dvorak’s beloved cello.