A NEAR-CAPACITY audience enjoyed an evening of fine chamber music in the Dorchester Corn Exchange.

The players were three members of the Nash Ensemble and the programme they gave us was varied in period and artistic weight – but all items were treated with the same care and imagination born of total technical mastery combined with the easy rapport born of long years playing together. Trios by two masters of the genre flanked slighter works by composers less known for their contribution to the chamber music genre.

By labelling his five short pieces Bagatelles, Gerald Finzi leads us not to expect too much but the attention to detail and beauty of sound which Richard Hosford (clarinet) brought to them showed them at their very best.

The Debussy cello sonata, one of the group of sonatas which Debussy planned in the last years of his life but of which he completed only three (one was apparently to have been for oboe and harpsichord!), although quite brief, is very varied in mood and texture. One has heard professional performers totally fail to make of its mercurial changes anything more that an interesting succession of unrelated events – but in Adrian Brendel’s hands there was no problem; each episode was played with persuasive understanding but the whole piece hung together perfectly.

We were sorry to learn that this was pianist Ian Brown’s penultimate appearance with the Nash Ensemble – playing of such assurance, sympathy and wisdom will surely be missed.

The concert began with a Beethoven rarity – the trio opus 11 belonging to the late 1790s. Beethoven had by this time written some powerful and challenging chamber music; but this trio finds him in a curiously unadventurous mood, writing what he felt the Viennese public could latch on to without difficulty.

But the final work in the programme, the Brahms A minor trio, displays no such uncertainty. What an inexhaustible range of instrumental colour Brahms is able to find from these three instruments and what a wide variety of mood he explores from eloquent power to touching poignancy and even playful bonhomie, not a vein for which he is famous. In the hands of three such intelligent and accomplished players this was an evening’s chamber playing of a very high order.