The twin themes of the 2014 Music in the Round festival are love and war. For the opening concert of the series, Brahms supplied the romance while Prokofiev and the young British composer
Piper's The Dark Hour is an ambitious, well-realised half-hour suite for seven solo instrumentalists and a narrator, based on the journal of private JW Greystone, who served in northern
Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No 7, completed in 1942, was the second in the War Sonata trilogy, in which the composer - obliged to provide an ode in honour of Stalin's 60th birthday - produced a sequence of aggressively dissonant works that seemed more accurately to reflect what he thought of him. Here
One does not generally look to Brahms for coded personal messages - except in the second of his string sextets, in which the composer embedded a passage spelling the name of the woman with whom he had recently broken off an engagement. To make it even more explicit, Brahms wrote: "Here I tore myself away from my last love." The tone produced by Ensemble 360 was both beguiling and bitter. Rarely has a kiss-off sounded so sublime.
Until 17 May. Box office: 0114-249 6000.
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