The pleasant salon music drifted around me and I fancied I dozed off. When I stirred moments later, I was aware of an accomplished pianist seated at a grand piano near the picture window of a tastefully furnished room. I saw Schumann wander in from the garden. He nodded to me agreeably and disappeared, probably in search of Clara.

Then I fancied Mendelssohn could be seen sitting in a far corner of the room looking slightly pained as he listened. Tchaikovsky came in briefly and enquired if I’d seen Rubinstein anywhere. I replied that I’d glimpsed him earlier arguing with Sinding; or at least I thought I had. He listened to the music for a few minutes, then shaking his head sympathetically, said that he too had had trouble writing solo piano music of any significance. He then muttered something about meeting a young guardsman in the summerhouse and ducked out. I slipped back into reverie as one of the more agreeable works, the first of the two charming Melodies wafted across the room. The waiter confided to me that they were planning first recordings of much of what we were hearing. I nodded, impressed by the largesse of some recording companies and dozed again.

By now all the music, in particular Akrostichon No 1, seemed to run together and I had trouble distinguishing the individual pieces. I suppose it’s possible to hear differences between works such as the Sérénade russe or the Souvenir de Dresde, but I wouldn’t put serious money on it.

Refer a friend