Marco Abbrescia and Valentina Ciardelli

Watching someone play the double bass with the speed, fluidity and skill more usually associated with a virtuoso violinist is an extraordinary experience because it’s so rare players of this background instrument get a chance to show off their grandstanding talents. This pair of Italians, both on courses at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, held their audience spellbound at the chapel of the Old Royal Naval College as they gave one of the most delightfully surprising recitals I have seen for a good while. Ciardelli’s section included her own composition, Zen Meditation No1, and a fabulous arrangement (by her) of Frank Zappa’s Blessed Relief. But the highlight of a magnificent hour of music was Abbrescia playing Chopin’s Etude Op 25 No7 in C-sharp minor, which was nothing short of glorious. 


Urska Horvat/Francesca Fierro

Slovenian cellist Horvat and Argentinian keyboard virtuoso Fierro are two thirds of the brilliant Tamesis Piano Trio and their involvement in that ensemble means they have an almost telepathic understanding, which was given full when they played Brahms’ Sonata for Cello and Piano No2 in F major St Alfege’s parish church as part of its ever-excellent series of free Trinity Laban lunchtime concerts. Horvat is not only a great player, she is also a flamboyant performer and she gave what was already a fine recital a memorable dash of flair too rarely seen in young musicians. I can’t recommend them – and the Tamesis trio – highly enough.

Gazing At A Distant Star

Greenwich Theatre studio’s world premiere of Sian Rowland’s intimate three-hander about the effects of a sudden disappearance on those left behind made for an almost faultless evening thanks to fine writing, pitch-perfect performances by Harpal Hayer, Victoria Porter and Serin Ibrahim, taut direction by James Haddrell and the intimacy of the space itself. Hayer neatly conveyed the grief, anger and resignation of a call-centre slave who loses a cherished pal to secret alcohol abuse, Porter was magnificent as a mum learning her teenage son had become a suicide-bomber and Ibrahim brilliantly captured the furious confusion caused by her sister’s decision to vanish without trace to escape a control-freak husband. Rowland’s play throbs with humanity, balancing despair with wit and intelligence while steering clear of sentimentality or cliché. But words are nothing without a voice – and given that the cast had only two weeks of rehearsals, it was remarkable that they created an atmosphere of such power and beauty in so short a time.