Verdict: three stars

Rysanov/Wass/Brentano Quartet

Crail Church, Fife

Maxim Rysanov is a magnetic musician, and the kind of muscular, full-throttle viola player who can make an innately mellow instrument roar.

It's not all fire and machismo - his legato lines are golden, his quiet sound is gorgeously warm - but nothing in the Ukrainian's performances happens by halves and nothing is shy.

The first of two East Neuk Festival appearances found him in duo with Ashley Wass, an English pianist with a cool and chiselled touch. The pairing really worked.

Schubert composed his Arpeggione Sonata in 1824 for a novelty fretted instrument somewhere between a guitar and a cello.

The first movement's dogged joviality can sound obsessive and a bit crazed, but Rysanov and Wass found new urgency, volatility and vulnerability in and around the wheeling theme. Self-doubt is so much a part of Schubert's music, but not enough players let it show.

Rysanov's taste in new music was less convincing. Leonid Desyatnikov wrote Wie Der Alte Leiermann for the violinist Gidon Kremer and now Rysanov has transcribed it for viola.

Based on the last song in Schubert's Der Winterreise, Desyatnikov pursues the song's themes too much, too far and without adding much of interest.

Erlkonig by Sergei Akhunov is likewise based on a Schubert song and likewise misses the unspoken terror of the original, instead magnifying the drama into a cheap and irritating scurry.

The concert's second half featured the Brentano Quartet playing Schubert's Death and the Maiden. As ever with this polished American ensemble, the playing was tasteful and well-groomed but I wasn't gripped, and I certainly didn't sense the emotional wreckage that lies beneath what should be one of Schubert's most galling works.