IF you are looking for a Christmas sparkler or two, you cannot go far wrong with the Sacconis.

In a pleasing something-for-everyone programme of Haydn, Janáček and Schubert, there was no mistaking their enthusiasm. This was their third visit to the British Music Society of York in ten years. Braving the Arctic weather, a sizeable audience testified to their reputation.

Instead of the scheduled Razor quartet of Haydn, we had its less distinctive near-relation, Op 54 No 3 in E major. They made every effort to convince that this was no come-down; in the end, they tried too hard. Early syncopation lacked cohesion and the cantabile Andante never really sang. Only the finale had the Sacconis’ trademark verve.

But this passion was exactly what Janáček’s Second Quartet (Intimate Letters) needed. Written in his last year (1928), it reveals his infatuation with his much younger, married muse, Kamila.

Its structure was strangely mirrored in the bearing of the players all evening: the outer voices calm and settled, the inner (second violin and viola) restless and intense, here reflecting Janáček’s interior turmoil breaking the surface intermittently. The leader’s harmonics were fine-tuned; the finale was gloriously romantic.

Schubert’s Death And The Maiden, D.810 was equally tempestuous, with vibrato kept to a minimum. Between the passions of the outer movements there was lovely light and shade in the Andante’s variations and a delicate trio: fireside warmth among the fireworks.