Tasmin Little & Wayne Marshall St John's Church, Hagley
Last week I was wondering why the Hagley Parish Music Festival was one of the region's best-kept secrets. Now I know: if Friday's wonderful concert to a packed audience, all apparently local, is any evidence, there is little need for it to trumpet itself.
St John's Church in the grounds of Hagley Hall is a delightful, welcoming venue, with a warm, immediate acoustic and only the sound of peacocks to spoil the surrounding silence.
It has an excellent, compact Nicholson organ that produced a neat, well-balanced sound for Wayne Marshall's nicely-judged Messiaen Transports de joie.
This polymath of a musician explored the instrument adroitly in a wittily referential improvisation on the Nokia mobile ring-tone, no less, before the other star of the evening, Tasmin Little, joined him for the touching Benedictus for violin and organ by William Lloyd Webber, the composer's gift to his bride on their wedding day.
The bulk of this lovely evening, however, was devoted to works for violin and piano (a splendidly-toned Fazioli grand).
The first half brought Kreisler's magnificent Praeludium and Allegro, electric with changes of colour and dynamics.
Little's approach to Bach's B minor Sonata was unabashedly non-period, entirely appropriate to the medium, with Marshall's accompaniment crisply turned, and Grieg's hopelessly bitty G major Sonata drew a full, impassioned tone from both players.
Finally, these two enchanting musicians, so at home with their instruments, beguiled us with Gershwin and Cole Porter (Begin the Beguine was touchingly encored at the emotional request of a dear old chap in the audience).
An additional bonus was the richly informative programme-book, excellent value at such a cheap price (as was the interval wine).