Arguably, marathon-long concert days such as we have seen in previous years, or a double performance such as this one, risk putting novelty value ahead of considerations of player stamina or artistic integrity. Regardless, Sunday's audience was delighted to move between the plush drawing rooms of Winton House, with afternoon tea and cake beside roaring fires at the halfway point, to hear two different programmes which the artists performed twice.
It is no slight on cellist Duncan Strachan and pianist Simon Smith to say the treat of the afternoon was Ensemble Marsyas, taking inspiration from the Canelettos and Van Dykes on the walls for their programming, and performing on historical instruments. What a marvel it is to hear a pair of un-keyed baroque oboes – instruments that look as unlikely as someone trying to blow a straw into a stair bannister – producing feats of musical and technical accomplishment as fine as you can hear anywhere in Europe.
All of this programme was delicious – with a gorgeous Handel Capriccio from Philippe Grisvard at the harpsichord, or mesmerisingly beautiful Dowland works for solo lute played by Thomas Dunford, thoughtfully sprinkled between the wind music.
New (if old) sounds reached fresh ears, as the audience craned in absorbed interest to see the unusual instruments, or sighed as the lute serenade floating towards them. Peter Whelan's baroque bassoon had the spotlight for the final Zelenka sonata with some sensational playing and the skipping oboes in the last Allegro (Molly Marsh and Josep Domenech Lafont), like an endlessly pirouetting ballerina, were just as virtuosic.