With the opening of a new branch of MDC Music & Movies in the music department of Foyles, the legendary Charing Cross Road bookshop and one of London's few remaining independent classical music retailers have entered into an exciting partnership.
The bookshop's third floor now not only offers sheet music and books but, through MDC and Ray's Jazz, a selection of CDs, DVDs and vinyl to cater for tastes right accross the musical spectrum.
An additional exciting development for the music-lover is the nascent concert series in which artists are given a platform to promote new releases.
These concerts offer a rare chance to appreciate a performer's artistry at unusually close quarters, in an informal atmosphere. In addition, they are free.
Such an event last week featured the great British ensemble, The Endellion String Quartet. The group is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with a busy schedule of concerts and events, including a Wigmore Hall recital on 16 June. The year has also seen the release, on Warner Classics & Jazz, of a very well received set of Beethoven's String Quartets, based on the latest scholarly editions of the works.
As such, a small audience was treated to an informal selection of movements from the quartets, each introduced with humour and affection by the Endellions: Andrew Watkinson and Ralph de Souza, violins; Garfield Jackson, violia; and David Waterman, cello.
There followed a brief question and answer session, where the members of the quartet fielded a variety of questions, as well as graciously obliging one audience member who simply requested an encore.
An earlier concert, which took place in late January and was organised in conjunction with EMI, showcased the talents of Beijing-born classical guitarist Xuefei Yang.
Negotiations are underway for further concerts organised with Warner and EMI artists, as well as events in conjunction with Harmonia Mundi. Several other companies have also been approached and the hope is to establish a regular series of concerts, organised with MDC and Ray's Jazz, showcasing the some of the finest talent in Classical, Jazz and World Music.
By Hugo Shirley