A vice-admiral's daughter, Adela Maddison obviously had the detemination of a battleship. Brought up eminently Victorian, such was her commitment to music that she left hearth and home, struck out for Europe, and wrote songs, chamber music, even a four-act opera, stamped with quirks and continental taste. The excellent Fibonacci Sequence promised us an "Adela Maddison rarity", though all her works are rarities.
The Fibs' major retrieval from the dust was Maddison's 1916 Piano Quintet, big, awkward and riveting. Two perfumed chromatic songs to French symbolist words, easily delivered by the mezzo Yvonne Howard, showed superior engineering. But the quintet, modern by the lights of its time, proved the real adventure. The harmonic orientation kept changing. Sections seemed to be stuck together not with logic but with a rubber band. From second to second you rarely know where this music was heading.
Had Maddison's music been crabbed and confined, the result could have sent us crazy. But a generous heart and lyric gift always shone through, and the performers basked in the surprises.
Kathron Sturrock, the Fibs' pianist-founder, had the easiest technical task, surging and sighing with dappled fingers. Jack Lebeck's violin, meanwhile, showed the way in finding expressive beauty in what on the page must have looked like ugly knots. Given its premiere in 1920, then forgotten, this music fully deserves to live again. A recording, please.
For the rest, we sailed through familiar waters, though not always in the usual manner. Mozart's concerto in C major, K415, arrived in the composer'sown condensation for piano and string quartet. Especially given such an intimate focus, Sturrock's dappling needed sharper pointing and an extra sparkle: it was hard to supress here the feeling of notes pouring from a tap.
In the four songs by Fauré (Maddison's mentor, possibly lover), Howard's plum voice needed its own recalibration, notably when pitched on high with the throat wide open. Still, she came up trumps in Chausson's Chanson perpetuelle, veiled and tender, sweetly wrapped in the instruments' embrace. What would the vice-admiral have made of it all?