Nearly a year on from starting Bachtrack, we keep on finding ever more improbable concert venues. It transpires that the main Blüthner piano showroom, a short stone's throw away from the uber-posh offices in London's Berkeley Square, puts on concerts once a fortnight or so. The concerts are played by aspiring young musicians, they are "by invitation" (in other words, you have to get in touch with Blüthner and ask to be put on their mailing list), and they're free - including the glass or two of wine provided on the house. The whole thing is a pleasantly sociable occasion.

We went along to see pianist Andrew Saunders and saxophonist Tom Law playing a wonderfully mixed programme, including serious classical (Rachmaninov, Debussy, Chopin) and some jazz numbers (most notably Erroll Garner's Misty and an encore of Dave Brubeck's Take Five where the two musicians switched instruments in mid-piece. My personal draw was Piazzolla's Histoire du Tango - I first got to know Piazzolla ten years ago, and I find the music exciting, breathtakingly beautiful or deliciously melancholic, sometimes all at the same time (which is a neat trick if you can do it).

One of the saxophone pieces was of particular historical interest: Joseph Arban's Caprice and Variations for Alto Saxophone and Piano. It's probably one of the very earliest compositions for saxophone: Arban worked for Adolphe Sax, the instrument's inventor, as a demonstrator, and wrote the piece as a virtuoso number to show off what the instrument could do. There aren't many instruments associated with one particular inventor in that way (the Ondes Martenot isn't exactly mainstream, and the Moog Synthesizer never quite made it into the classical world), so it's intriguing to hear something so tangibly close to the historical beginnings of the instrument.

The space works surprisingly well: the music is played in a small mezzanine which has had several pianos shoved up to one end to make room for the audience. It's just wonderful to be able to go along and hear such high quality music played in a very small space, and talk to a crowd of like-minded enthusiasts. And I'm sure it's great for the performers also. Roger Willson, the Blüthner Piano Centre's CEO, is passionate about the need to encourage young performers: like many of us, he worries about how many of the large number of young musicians coming out of music college are going to find their way into performing careers. In deference to our hosts, by the way, I have to point out that the piano, a retro-styled edition made in honour of the company's anniversary, sounded absolutely gorgeous, with all the clarity you might want in the upper registers, and a lovely warm tone in the lower that I find very seductive and not always present in some of the better-known names.

The jazz element in the concert programme was unusual (most of the programmes are straight classical), but I must say that we thought the very mixed programme would work extremely well for introducing someone to classical, running the span from familiar jazz standards to accessible pieces like Satie's Gymnopédie no.1, the virtuoso extravaganza of Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu all the way to a much harder-edged modern work: Piet Swerts's Klonos.

And so, another musical gem discovered... If anyone's interested, I gather you can contact infopadding against spammers@padding against spammersbluthner.co.uk to find out more.

29th November 2008