Concert review: Mr McFall's Chamber

Mr McFall's ChamberSt Mark's Unitarian Church, Edinburgh ****

Maverick ensemble Mr McFall's Chamber have the knack of taking audiences on insightful musical journeys and Facing North, which travelled to Norway and Finland, via Scotland and Russia, was no exception.

Grieg's Unfinished Piano Quintet in B flat major was a revelation, with its luscious surging melodies. The up-in-the-air ending, after Grieg put down his pen and decided he had better things to do, was tantalising.

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One of the melodies is embedded in the glacial cool of James Clapperton's …den som ingen ser ("…that which no-one sees"). His artful juxtaposition of Norwegian folk tunes and the homely fifths of the hardanger fiddle with icy harmonics and unsettling seconds was like light refracting through a prism of broken mirrors.

The chill factor in Shostakovitch's Piano Quintet in G minor is generated more by fear than temperature, and Mr McFall's beautifully captured the unsettling disquiet and the sinister-edged humour. At the other extreme, Ollie Mustonen's zany Toccata for piano quintet and double bass was perfectly suited to the ensemble's sparky energy. Finally, Grieg's Four Pieces for Strings were an early Christmas treat, imbued these gorgeous with warm festive cheer.

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