Three members of the lauded Endymion ensemble presented three masterpieces of chamber music, including two from the under-exploited genre of the horn trio.
To begin with, pianist Michael Dussek and violinist Krysia Osostowicz featured in a performance of Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 10 in G; perfectly competent, but it struggled to get going.
The main problem was a stilted adagio that lacked expression. Better was the nonchalant scherzo and the finale had the fervour and commitment that was missing in the first half of the piece.
However, the remaining two pieces, with horn player Stephen Stirling compensated for this unsure start. Ligeti's horn trio – Hommage à Brahms – is a fiendish piece but the players handled its complexities confidently.
The first movement was a delicate study in poise and atmosphere while the second was taken a little under the indicated tempo, but it still managed to be cheeky and spirited.
The march-like third movement showcases Ligeti's comedic side and this rendition was suitably madcap, with manic interjections from the horn, which is instructed in the score 'blare at full volume regardless of violin and piano'.
A deeper mood is called for in the concluding Lament, and it is certainly where Ligeti was closest to Brahms in spirit.
The trio really tore into the Brahms Horn Trio. This was particularly evident in the Scherzo, which was played with abandon. Dussek, especially, seeming to revel in the ferocity of it, extracting granitic sonorities from the piano at will.
The highlight was a passionate Adagio; full of sensitive playing from the musicians - so much so that it overshadowed the finale!
It was difficult to pick between the Brahms and the Ligeti in the end; I must applaud Endymion's commitment to tradition and innovation in their choice of repertoire.