Chamber Domaine, Chichester Chamber Concerts, Chichester Assembly Room

When Chamber Domaine had performed for Chichester Chamber Concerts, two years ago, they played fascinating modern music, by Part, Faure, Shostakovich and Ravel. Now that this talented group was present, once again – in the Assembly Room – they had, on this occasion, decided to concentrate on music by Brahms and Gabriel Faure, a stimulating choice which combined intriguing late 19th Century music with rather more inventive, early 20th Century, compositions.

Having been eagerly introduced to all those present, by Anna Hill, all four string players – two violins, viola and cello – eagerly combined with their pianist, Huw Watkins, to commence a passionate presentation of a truly mesmerizing Piano Quintet, by Gabriel Faure, who had placed himself at the forefront of French music of the early 20th Century – with Debussy and Ravel. Although playing enthusiastically, all musicians combined radiantly to express this composer’s unique sound-world. While both the two early movements possessed intense, dreamy characters, this highly distinctive work concluded with an impressive Allegretto, based on the sprightly melody and rhythm of “more popular music” – finally concluding with an energetic coda.

Next came the more traditional mode of Brahms himself, when the powerful voice of the New Zealand mezzo-soprano, Wendy Dawn Thompson, dominated all five instrumentalists as she participated in this incredibly melodious work, called Two Songs, for Mezzo, Viola and Piano, which was soon permeated by gently rhythmic lullabies, as it was devotedly transferred to the wholehearted audience.

Immediately following the Interval, this stimulating mezzo-soprano then enthusiastically introduced Faure’s La Bonne Chanson, another mesmerizing French work, which united her intense voice with some enthusiastic pianism, in which all six musicians passionately combined traditional music with more progressive ideas, when the tempo and key of all nine songs expressed a – frequently exuberant – spirit, all of which was vibrantly transferred to the Assembly Room atmosphere.

Bearing in mind that this particular composer is regarded as an appropriate link between up-to-date music and the more traditional approach of Brahms, all five instrumentalists then logically concluded with his Piano Quintet, (written in 1863), during which they were creating quasi-symphonic sound, occasionally led by intense piano-playing, especially in the tempestuous opening movement.

All five then impressively concluded this recital with the final movement of this stimulating work, in which such an intriguing combination of rondo and sonata forms occasionally adopted a gypsy-like flavour, thus earning an immensely enthusiastic – elongated – response from all those present in the Assembly Room.

John Wheatley.