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  • Miles Hedley


I’ve been to hundreds of Trinity Laban recitals over the years and I can say with my hand on my heart that I’ve never seen one that wasn’t excellent. What’s more, many have been nothing short of sensational and among those I’d include the most recent one by double bassist Valentina

I first saw her a year ago when, as a member of the bass/harp duo The Girls In The Magnesium Dress, she played a concert at the Queen’s House which ended with an amazing version of Frank Zappa’s Peaches En Regalia.

This time she was headlining a free lunchtime recital in the chapel of the Old Royal Naval College – and I’m delighted to report Mr Zappa once again supplied the means for Ciardelli’s grand finale.

First, however, there were other musical delights to savour in a programme that covered almost exactly two centuries of music.

She opened with the world premiere of John Alexander’s Helve And Swipple, a mesmerising duet for double bass and electric bass guitar which she played – brilliantly - with James Dibble.

Alexander himself was in the audience and told me afterwards that Ciardelli had asked him to write the piece using this unprecedented combination of instruments.

Ciardelli was later joined by violist Ignazio Alayza and pianist Stefano Teani as she magically transformed her unwieldy bass into a delicate solo instrument for Schubert’s gorgeous take on Goethe’s poem Erlkönig, a fabulous extract from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly (which she arranged) and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms II.

She also wowed the audience with another world premiere – Teani’s splendid Eros & Thanatos.

And she ended with two Zappa tunes - Echidna’s Arf (Of You) and What Is The Ugliest Part Of Your Body, the latter featuring her and her fellow musicians singing a doo-wop accompaniment as they played.

As I said at the start, no Trinity recital is ever less than excellent. But this one was simply out of this world.

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