A show of “all our favourite people”. Violinist Matthew Trusler's description of the charity concert organised by himself and his wife Maya Koch refers to his and Koch’s favourite people; however he could very well have meant his audience’s or even the concert-going public. The couple have some very well-known friends indeed: the evident warmth between them created the intimate, spontaneous atmosphere of a private drawing-room where world-class musicians happened to be making music together.

The concert began with Percy Grainger’s two-piano arrangement of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, performed with humour and drama by Martin Roscoe and Peter Donohoe. The pair are old collaborators, having performed together regularly since their student days and released two CDs. Their longstanding relationship was evident in their flawlessly matched playing and the ease with which they were able to skip through changes of tempi and mood without obvious signs of communication. Whilst Gershwin’s ‘folk opera’ was a failure which created a $70,000 loss, Grainger’s neat arrangement went down well and created the perfect atmosphere for a light-hearted and enjoyable evening.

As befits a children’s charity concert, the second and central work had a youthful link: Mendelssohn’s enduringly popular Octet in E flat major written when he was just sixteen. Yet this is no precocious teenage work valued only for the composer’s later achievements: the Octet is loved for its imaginative composition and passionate themes and was chosen by the composer himself twenty years on as his favourite among his many works. How fitting, then, that a work which does not betray its youthful origins was tonight played by a youthful group whose polished playing compares favourably against performances by far more established ensembles. Violinists Matthew Trusler and Maya Koch, violist Krzysztof Chorzelski and cellist Natalie Klein were joined by the young Solstice Quartet, whose players are all in their mid-twenties and are certainly headed for the same dizzy heights as their colleagues.

Mendelssohn’s great work creates a depth of sound more often found in orchestral performances than chamber concerts and so demands great richness of sound and imagination as well as technical skill at the highest level. Despite the Cadogan Hall’s famously dry acoustic each of the eight players delivered this and added to it complete commitment to the piece, clearly feeling every change of subtle change of mood and communicating these to the audience through their playing and through the eight uncontrollable grins that were often shared onstage.

The concert was rounded off by Saint-Saens’ much-loved Carnival of the Animals, with actor Tim Conti reading Ogden Nash’s accompanying verses. The Belcea Quartet was joined by friends including clarinettist David Campbell who stepped in for Michael Collins, the latter having claimed to be snowed into his bedroom. Saint-Saens’ entertaining piece, not publicly performed until after his death, was the third example of perfect programming as it provided an enjoyable way to display virtuosic and relaxed playing between friends. Flautist Wissam Boustany created a moment of haunting stillness in his performance of The Aviary and Belcea Quartet brought unashamed comedy to the entire piece.

Concert over, we found ourselves outside in the snow, filled with the warm glow of a superb concert for a very good cause. Another excellent decision on Trusler and Koch’s part perhaps, in scheduling this charitable delight on the first day of Advent?