There was an extra layer of bravery when Sydney’s Omega Ensemble was forced to make a late change of program and personnel for its Lionheart tour to close its 2023 season.

An indisposed Peter Clark left Artistic Director David Rowden sifting through his contacts for a first violin. He found a redoubtable late replacement in Kristian Winther, but it did mean that the planned performance of John Adams’ First Quartet had to be scratched.

Instead, the evening opened with a work grafted on from their upcoming season, Nervous System by US composer Christopher Cerrone, a work Omega co-commissioned in 2021.

Little was lost, however, apart from about 15 minutes in total duration, and the concert, the first night of a six-concert series, was remarkable for its cohesion, verve and excitement.

Omega Ensemble: Lionheart. Photo © Jay Patel

At its heart was a full-blooded reading of Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G minor Op. 57. He wrote it for the Beethoven String Quartet and added a demanding piano part, he told a friend, so that they would take him on tour and he would “get a chance to see the world”.