If Festivals are all about variety with a dollop of mix and match, this year’s annual Musica Viva Festival in Sydney looks set to be a positive smorgasbord of chamber delights. The opening concert offered works and players old and new, with plenty to engage head and heart plus some of the best chamber music playing I’ve heard all year thanks to a pair of outstanding quartets: the Goldner String Quartet – the home team, as it were – and the Elias Quartet – a British group on a real roll right now.

But first, the concert opened with a rarity: Florent Schmitt’s Légendefor saxophone and piano. Schmitt was a bit of a bastard – a leading Parisian critic, he once shouted “Vive Hitler!” at a Kurt Weill concert – but his arabesque-laden Légendeis reminiscent of Debussy at his yummiest and well worth an outing. Amir Farid leant a sensitive touch in a finely paced account, coping well with the numeous hand-crossings, while Amy Dickson’s warm tone really soared, her instrument flickering brightly around and about Schmitt’s melismatic writing. This was genuinely thoughtful playing and a delightful surprise.