Review: BSO String Ensemble, Portsmouth Guildhall

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At last! After 10 nomadic years, the Portsmouth Chamber Music concert series has surely found a venue it can call home.

For the first concert of the 2014-15 season, the Guildhall’s staff built tiered seating for the audience on all four sides of the stage, leaving a former co-leader of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and four current members to play in the space in the middle.

And how well they played in two substantial works by Dvorak and a shorter, sometimes comedic Duetto for cello and double bass by Rossini. Full marks to David Kenihan, stepping in at short notice to play the chuntering bass part, and to Jesper Svedberg whose ‘singing’ cello at times created a sturdy impression of a coloratura soprano.

But the meat of the programme was in Dvorak’s Terzetto in C major and String Quintet in G major, the latter moving from light-heartedness to deep melancholy and vibrant folk-dance rhythms.

With vivid spontaneity, this was chamber-playing of the highest order. Thank you, University of Portsmouth, for continuing to enrich the city’s cultural life with this series.