Written by David Kettle
Published on Saturday 27 February 2016
IT WAS a slimmed-down Scottish Ensemble that took to the stage of Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre – just the five of them, for a passionate programme of string quintets by Mozart and Brahms.
Passionate was certainly the word – as they do in their fuller string orchestra incarnation, the five players found the character and drama in everything they played. It felt like far from easy listening; instead, it was a thoughtful, provocative, high-contrast performance, and strongly projected, too – sometimes brilliantly so, other times slightly less.
In their bold second movement of the Mozart G minor Quintet, for example, they contrasted silky phrasing with some intentionally harsh, raw sounds – dramatic, certainly, but also perhaps a bit over-emphatic. The opening of the Brahms G major Quintet, with cellist Alison Lawrance delivering a superbly bounding theme, was wonderfully forthright, but less vivid when it returned later on – although the fivesome rollicked through Brahms’s gypsy coda with marvellous abandon.