London Sinfonietta's shrewdly constructed programme for Bromsgrove Concerts revealed a wonderful panorama of music from the last 100 years.
Much of the evening was linked in some way or another with the oldest work on offer, Debussy's late Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp. This masterwork for such an attractive combination came last, the performers well-attuned to its myriad moods set within a context of celtic melancholy.
A similarly elfin soundworld suffused Takemitsu's And Then I Knew 'twas Wind for the same combination, the title immediately suggesting one of the Japanese composer's favourite sources of inspiration. Occasional microtones evoked sounds of the Orient, as did Karen Jones' musky flute. The whole effect was magical in this persuasive performance.
The most recent work (2005) was Harrison Birtwistle's Crowd for solo harp (the title has roots in celtic stringed instruments), Helen Tunstall brilliant in its cross-handed complexities and exploitation of resonance.
Almost as recent is Emily Hall's Join for flute and harp. Certainly there were some beguiling sounds here, but its one-size-fits-all provenance (already it has been heard in three different combinations) seems to rob it of any convincing inevitability.
John Constable was the fourth member of the Sinfonietta here, his subtle pianism a well-judged foil for Paul Silverthorne's viola - a 1620 Amati as mellifluous as any tenor with taste - in Britten's haunting Lachrymae, in a reading which probed to the heart of these variations on fragments by the great lutenist/songwriter John Dowland.
Constable joined with Jones for a sprightly, evocative Messiaen Le Merle Noir, Debussy again at its heart. The flautist admitted in conversation with the engaging Fraser Trainer that this was her first performance of this testing piece, and she encompassed its intricacies triumphantly.