He is John Alley, pianist extraordinaire of the London Symphony Orchestra with the technique of a great concert pianist and a fine musicianship to match and crucially from my point of view,
he played for hundreds of singing lessons as a student at Guildhall.
He understands us perfectly and is very patient with me when my counting goes awry.
We kicked off with one of the greatest songs by Rachmaninov, Spring Waters, almost a piano concerto in itself through which he sailed while I struggled hilariously with my rusty Russian.
Then on to late night cabaret French songs from between the wars and luscious, Belle Epoch Italian delights from Respighi to unpublished Mascagni, in indecipherable manuscript which he still managed to play magnificently.
Then to my great love - the Neapolitan Songs, taught to me by Nicola Rescigno, "Well all the great singers sang them - you know."
With recordings by Gigli and di Stefano, I have a lot to live up to....and they bring the house down. Neapolitan is not an easy language to understand or to pronounce, being a mixture of the influences generated by the cauldron of Naples. There is Arabic, Spanish, French and some Italian too! It also has a great conservatoire which produced Bellini, Spontini, Riccardo Muti and his maestro Nino Rota, who wrote the music for the Fellini films.
We race through Noel Coward's Nina at the gallop, a masterpiece of Latin American footwork and verbal wit.....no problems there, and wonder where to place it in a programme and for what sort of audience. A glance at the beautiful songs of Ivor Novello, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hart and we think about Castelnuovo Tedesco and Kurt Weill.
John was running out of time and I of voice after almost five hours, and we hadn't even begun on my Adriana with her ravishing Intermezzo (with three harps) and which in a concert programme gives me a little break, and he can make sound like an orchestra...or Berlioz' great Dido or Verdi's Desdemona. Her Salce, Salce with its Ave Maria is perfect for a cathedral, as is Mascagni's. There are so many more of my great operatic heroines but they must wait for another day.
Very few musicians could cope with such a range of style and repertoire and make it all sound wonderful.
John Alley does.
What a happy day! I think about it all until late, as I water the roses, and now of course I can't get to sleep because I'm full of music..............Where is my lavender candle?