REVIEW: Ensemble 360, Portsmouth Guildhall

Ensemble 360
Ensemble 360
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One of the recurring attractions of Ensemble 360’s playing is the sense of smiling friends striking musical sparks off each other. But not so much, alas, in this Portsmouth Chamber Music concert.

Only four of the players were regulars, and one of those had no part in the main work, Schubert’s Octet, where the infrequency of eye contact reflected the element of relative unfamiliarity.

So although the two regular violinists’ duetting in the adagio had an admirable togetherness, the music-making too often lost the sense of spontaneous mutual delights.

In fact it was three of the substitutes – on cello, clarinet and horn – who seemed, visually as well as aurally, to relish the occasion most.

The concert began with Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata, six pieces for solo piano interspersed with Six Bagatelles for woodwind quintet.

All were played with precision and panache – eerie, quirky, chattering, and both atmospheric and emotive in a memorial to fellow-Hungarian composer Bartok.

Adrian Wilson’s multi-faceted oboe (an instrument Schubert omitted from his Octet) showed proper panache in characterising Ligeti’s music from the start.