THE New Year got off to a fine start for Keswick Music Society, writes ELAINE MOOR, with three highly talented, young, up and coming musicians: Catriona McDermid, bassoon, Mana Shibata, oboe, and Suling King, piano.

These three young players immediately engaged with the audience by coming on stage with lots of smiles and suitable introductions to their pieces. They made very interesting connections with the music and indeed themselves, including the fact that Elgar wrote his violin concerto for the great grandfather of Suling.

The concert opened with Peter Hope's Four Sketches for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, a delightful set of pieces and a splendid way to open giving the audience an opportunity to get used to the sound of the three instruments. The piece was beautifully written for the combination and the musicians exhibited some stylish and sensitive ensemble playing with a lovely interplay between the oboe and bassoon. Their ensemble playing in this piece was outstanding and it is quite clear they enjoy playing together.

Stephen Dodgson was a contemporary of Peter Hope and his Suite for oboe and piano was the second item on the programme. It was lovely to listen to and beautifully played by the oboist with superbly sensitive piano accompaniment.

Catriona then treated us to one of the most famous pieces written for bassoon, the Romance by Elgar. She showed superb control of her instrument with a beautiful tone and dynamic control throughout the range.

The first half of the programme ended with a delightful Toccata for bassoon and piano by Nino Rota.

Clemence de Grandval was the only woman composer included in this programme with her Trio de Salon. There were some beautiful melodies, where the oboe and bassoon had conversations with each other. These were executed perfectly. The role of the piano in this piece was very much an accompanying one until towards the end when a flourish of virtuosity was revealed and enjoyed. Suling displayed her ability to be a fine accompanist as well as a soloist when it was appropriate.

Mana chose to play four of the six metamorphoses for solo oboe by Benjamin Britten. To play unaccompanied can be very lonely but she played with confidence and great musicianship showing excellent control of this double reed instrument which can be very difficult to achieve. She made it appear effortless.

Finally, we heard the fabulous Trio for piano, oboe and bassoon by Francis Poulenc - a stunningly good piece, which enabled Catriona, Mana and Suling to display their amazing individual technical abilities, their dynamic range and their superb playing as an ensemble. It was a dazzling piece to finish their programme.