FOR the opening concert in their 69th season, Richmondshire Subscription Concerts chose Britain’s oldest chamber ensemble, the Allegri String Quartet.

The quartet’s membership has evolved very gradually since their formation in 1953 and their newest member, first violin Martyn Jackson, appeared here last year as leader of the Cavaleri Quartet.

They began with Alec Roth’s String Quartet No. 3, "Autumnal", which was written for and first performed by the Allegri in 2013.

This impressed from the beginning with some rich string sounds, especially from the cello.

The gentle and lyrical second movement Serenade, based on Roth’s setting of a John Donne poem, was probably the core of the work with a slightly wistful air set off by a central tango-like section.

For the next two pieces the quartet was joined by viola player Graham Oppenheimer, formerly of the Schidlof Quartet, who fitted in perfectly for two masterly performances.

With Mozart’s String Quintet in C major, K515 we were swept into another world with the musicians gracefully nodding and leaning towards one another almost like dancers.

Everything slotted together perfectly as if there could be no other way with, for example, the exquisite repose and reflection in the Andante set off perfectly by the sunny and teasing Allegro.

With Brahms’ magnificent String Quintet in G major op. 111 one became more aware of the overall sound with the players producing a gloriously rich texture and ensemble sound.

The next concert on Saturday, October 22, features the ten-piece North East Brass Ensemble; details at or 01748 822640.

Peter Bevan