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London's latest concert venue, adjacent to Sloane Square, is Cadogan Hall -- a converted church with admirable acoustics, where you have to climb flights of stairs when you can't get in the lift, to reach the auditorium itself, which houses just over 500 people. I went to hear my favourite young pianist -- Mei Yi Foo -- perform Mozart's Piano Concerto No 23 in A major, but didn't expect to listen to it divided down the middle: the longer opening movement half way through the first half, and the other two shortly after the interval. I queried this magnificent stroke of diplomacy, and it was explained to me that this class of audience -- Mums and Dads, TV addicts who agreed -- for the evening -- to be dragged away from East Enders, and the usual Tombola fanatics -- would just about be able to assimilate up to 10-15 minutes of music without their attentions wandering.

The remainder of the lineup was the excellent BBC Concert Orchestra, leader Cynthia Fleming, with a couple of decent singers going through their set opera arias, a marvellous mandolin player to accompany the villainous Don Giovanni in his alluring Deh Vieni, and as Master of Ceremonies, the Hon Charles Hazelwood, complete with multi-coloured flower waistcoat, carnation, and his personal microphone attachment which bridged the back of his head, connecting to the ear lobes and jutting out at the front parallel to his mouth. Fifteen more microphones on stands were across the stage, the tallest of which was in front of the conducting podium.

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Copyright © 21 February 2006 Bill Newman, Edgware, Middlesex


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