SKIPTON Music’s season focusing on the work of women composers continued with an imaginative and vibrant concert given by the Bloomsbury Quartet and “recentering” on the British composer Elizabeth Maconchy.

As well as quartets from contrasting periods of her lifetime, we heard works by Vaughan Williams and Janacek, two of the major influences on her style, and by her daughter Nicola Lefanu.

The concert was complemented by a display with photos and further information about her life and work.

It has to be said that this was not an evening of easy listening! – even the Vaughan Williams quartet, written during the second world war, is a sombre and at times harshly dissonant piece. But the Bloomsbury quartet proved inspiring and compelling advocates for this largely unfamiliar music.

The Maconchy first quartet and the Janacek quartet were electric with energy, while the more meditative interludes in the Nicola Lefanu and the later Maconchy quartet were played with great delicacy and lovely sonorities, and the epilogue of the Vaughan Williams was treated with the warmth and fulness of sound that we would expect from this master of string writing.

This concert was “recentered” in another sense: the quartet opted to play at ground level in the middle of the audience, between the front seats and the raked seating.

As well as giving a much more intimate feel – as if we were privileged friends sitting in on four people playing for their own pleasure – it was a joy to see, as well as hear, the empathy between the players. Let’s hope that other ensembles who come to Skipton will follow suit!

The next concert in Skipton Music’s “hidden treasures” season will be on Tuesday 28 March, when Samantha Ege (piano) will celebrate the role of women composers in the Black Renaissance. Details and tickets from Skipton Town Hall or from Skipton Music's website