Hats off to Music in the Round for the way they have handled the crisis of Gemma Rosefield's indisposition due to illness at the last minute. In Oliver Coates, they have found a cellist who not only knows the Bridge Phantasy Piano Quartet and plays it with the ideal ethereal yet strong sound, but who also apparently is telepathic, playing as if he has been partnered with Ensemble 360 for months.
I don't know how much preparation time the players got in this combination, but the performance was as if they had rehearsed all night and then gone back in time and got a good night's sleep. The quick music was dazzling and yet poised and taut, and the slow music – in particular the dreamy coda – was amazingly tranquil.
It was another refreshingly colourful programme, and the rest of it gave no cause for complaint. Prokofiev's Flute Sonata was smooth and beguiling in the hands of Juliette Bausor. The piece is saturated with graceful but tongue-in-cheek melodies, but it never became much of a muchness, with Bausor and Horton highlighting its varied harmonic subtleties, and putting a rocket under the virtuosic passages in the Scherzo and the Finale.
Violinist Benjamin Nabarro was engaging in Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale Suite, his devilish tango suitably macabre. Matt Hunt is reliably excellent in this repertoire, with his facility across the registers of the clarinet. The May Festival has kept Tim Horton very busy indeed, but he continues to render these heavy-duty twentieth-century piano parts with authority and sensitivity.