Milestones for musicians; A band of Norwegians crosses to our shores next week, and we'll share the spoils of their friendly invasion, says RICHARD YATES.
NORDIC neighbours cross the North Sea to make their base on Tyneside next week, and this time it will be a welcome invasion, with the spoils from their two-day expedition - some fantastic musicmaking - being shared by all.
The Bergen Philharmonic, one of the world's longest-established orchestras, had close ties with the Norwegian port's most famous son, Edvard Grieg - he was their music director in the 1880s - and two of the composer's works will be featured during their residency at The Sage Gateshead next Monday and Tuesday for the launch of their English tour.
The orchestra, under the direction of their current music director, Andrew Litton, will also feature musical milestones by the two Russian greats of 20th Century music, Prokofiev and Shostakovich - with two formidably-talented young soloists fully prepared to do them justice.
London-born pianist Freddy Kempf has performed to sell-out audiences across the world since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year contest in 1992. He has made his reputation as a dynamic performer, not afraid to take risks, as well as being a serious, sensitive and profoundly-musical artist.
Freddy will perform Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No.3 in Monday's Hall One concert, which opens at 7.30pm with Grieg's rarely performed but exquisite Bell-Ringing miniature and ends with the magnificent and stirring Fifth Symphony by Shostakovich.
Tuesday night will feature the highly acclaimed violinist Julian Rachlin. Born in Lithuania in 1974, he later moved to Austria with his musical parents and studied with Boris Kuschnir at the Vienna Conservatory and also took private lessons with Pinchas Zukerman.
Julian won international recognition by winning the Young Musician of the Year award in the 1988 Eurovision Competition, after which he performed at the Berlin Festival with the Orchestre National de France and toured Europe and Japan with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
He was also the youngest soloist ever to play with the Vienna Philharmonic. On Tuesday, Julian plays Shostakovich's haunting Violin Concerto No.1, and the concert opens with the ever-popular first suite from Grieg's Peer Gynt incidental music. The Bergen PO bring the entertainment to a dynamic close with Prokofiev's breathtaking Symphony No.5. Tickets for each of the Bergen PO's Monday and Tuesday concerts are from pounds 7-pounds 29.50 and can be booked on 0191 443 4661. Each concert is preceded at 6.30pm by a talk which is free to ticket holders.
THE Newcastle Early Music Festival continues this Sunday with German choral works for Passiontide performed by Cappella Novocastriensis and Newcastle Baroque under the baton of Eric Cross.
The concert, from 7.30pm in the King's Hall of Newcastle University, entitled Via Dolorosa, features motets by Schtz and Graun's Der Tod Jesus. The soloists are soprano Julia Logan, tenor Martin Hindmarsh and baritone Martin Wheeler, and tickets on the door are pounds 15, OAPs pounds 13, students and unwaged pounds 8. Under-18s get free admission.
Choral enthusiasts will also be interested in tomorrow's performance of Haydn's Creation by the Priory Singers with an orchestra at St Mary's Church, Monkseaton. The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets on the door are pounds 8. email@example.com
DYNAMIC - pianist Freddy Kempf plays Prokofiev at The Sage Gateshead on Monday and violinist Julian Rachlin is soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra next Tuesday KEMPF PICTURE : MONIQUE DEUL