THE fourth York Chamber Music Festival closed with the Festival Artists’ Concert on Sunday.

The NCEM’s acoustic lent a liquid quality to the sinuous lines of the Menuetto from Mozart’s G minor String Quintet. Parts of the subsequent movement felt slightly heavy for the same reason, but the quintet worked to shape accompanying textures.

The second half was filled, in every sense, by Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary String Sextet. Cellist Matthew Lowe replaced Adrian Brendel at the last minute, but the group’s energy and razor-sharp co-ordination – particularly at nail-bitingly urgent moments in the second movement – were unimpeded; if the switch hadn’t been announced, it wouldn’t have been apparent.

Tchaikovsky’s worries about writing for this larger ensemble belie the effectiveness of textural variety in this work. The piece was saturated with sound throughout. The sheer depth and volume of chords, and contrasting force of unison passages – in which Tim Lowe (cellist and director) took expressive lines for all they were worth – were startling.

At the concert’s end, the man sitting to my right said "I’ve never heard such wonderful playing". Another audience member made similar comments as we left last year’s Festival Artists’ concert. This is worth mentioning, as a reviewer’s experience is only ever one of many.

The ensemble was not playing to a sold-out audience; clearly, the York Chamber Music Festival deserves greater attention. Keeping a project like this alive requires support, and this rapturously received performance deserved to have reached a wider audience.

Review by Claire McGinn