"Serial collaborator", coined for the percussion adventurer Trilok Gurtu, is a tag that either of the night's participants could claim for their own. The boundary-crossing pianist and the pioneer of British bhangra have met on stage before, though their shared experience goes further. Both belong to a network ranging from saxophonist Andy Sheppard to the Britten Sinfonia who all play with one another from time to time.
At St James's, the listeners were there to raise funds for the Paul D'Auria Cancer Support Centre, a Battersea-based charity. The atmosphere had been heightened not only by Joanna MacGregor's solo first half of Bach and Shostakovich but by inspiring speeches about lives extended many years with the right support.
Kuljit Bhamra played tablas with his left hand while using a stick in his right for the Latin drums – a quiet but fascinating set-up. He was still working out a personal fusion.
So was MacGregor. Her way with this music is spectacularly unidiomatic and flamboyant. Hands operate full tilt at opposite ends of the keyboard, and one of the Piazzolla pieces ended in a torrent of forearm slides and crashes.
Bhamra mostly remained the supporting partner, giving a necessary boost to the rhythms in an acoustic that blurred MacGregor's high-density accelerations.
The Bach-Shostakovich half drew on MacGregor's well-travelled set of their preludes and fugues, featuring the composers in alternation. It's a format that tends to produce shocks when Shostakovich runs on from Bach in the same key. Not every pianist could make it succeed, but MacGregor's quietly questing manner drew the disparate threads together in purposeful concentration.Reuse content