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Pride of a nation; Young musicians from the Czech Republic are about to fly their flag of musical excellence in the North East. RICHARD YATES has the details.


FIVE young musicians who are the pride of the Czech Republic will be in our region next week to show just why their performances across Europe and beyond have sparked such rave reviews.

The first to step into the spotlight will be 32-year-old pianist Martin Kasik, the guest of the Sunderland Pianoforte Society at the city's Museum & Winter Gardens on Tuesday from 7.15pm. His stunning performances have drawn comparisons - from French critics at least - to the legendary talents of Martha Argarich and Vladimir Horovitz.

Martin began playing the piano aged four and, after studies with some of Europe's most respected tutors, won the New York Young Concert Artists' Competition in 1999.

On Tuesday he will play Janacek's Sonata 1.X.1905, Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise, followed by Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Tickets on the door: pounds 10, concessions available.

Martin Kasik's four compatriots represent the Pavel Haas Quartet, who give a Music in the Round recital in Hall Two at The Sage Gateshead on Wednesday from 8pm. The Prague-based foursome - violinists Veronika Jaruskova and Eva Karova, viola-player Pavel Nikl and cellist Peter Jarusek - take their name from the Czech composer whose life was brutally cut short at Auschwitz in 1944. Their Sage recital showcases Czech composers, opening with Janacek's much-loved String Quartet No.1, known as The Kreutzer Sonata, and concluding with Haas' Quartet No.3 and Dvorak's Quartet No.13. Ticket details on (0191) 443-4661.

THE Sage Gateshead has a full schedule of classical delights over the next few days. Tonight at 7.30, tenor Ian Bostridge joins the Northern Sinfonia in Hall One for a programme of Handel arias, concerto grossi and overtures which they're shortly to take on tour in Poland and Germany.

Tomorrow in Hall Two from 7pm there's the Samling Masterclass Concert with soprano Yvonne Kenny, Seaham baritone Sir Thomas Allen, pianist Malcolm Martineau and eight young soloists in a programme of songs, arias and ensembles. On Sunday at 11am Hall Two hosts a recital for BBC Radio 3 of lieder by Mahler, Korngold and Zemlinsky with baritone Stephan Loges and pianist Eugene Asti. The charismatic young violinist Nicola Benedetti is in Hall One on Monday from 7.30pm, playing Schnittke's Suite in Old Style, Prokofiev's Sonata No.1 and Franck's Sonata in A.

NEWCASTLE'S own Avison Ensemble brings insights into period-instrument performance of familiar classics in their Beethoven Revealed concert in The King's Hall of Newcastle University on Wednesday from 7.30pm. Presenting the music in the form with which Beethoven's audiences would be most familiar, the Avisons open with the First Symphony before Alexei Lubimov joins as soloist in the Fourth Piano Concerto. The evening ends with the Triple Concerto in C. Ticket details on (0191) 232-1356.

OPERA North's short season at Newcastle's Theatre Royal resumes next week with 7.15pm performances. Skin Deep, by David Sawer and Armando Iannucci, receives its world premiere on Wednesday, while on Thursday Puccini's Tosca takes to the stage.

Next Friday sees a new production of Gershwin's hilarious political satire Let 'Em Eat Cake, a performance repeated at 7.15pm on Saturday March 7 and preceded by a 2pm matinee performance of its prequel, Of Thee I Sing. Ticket details on 08448 112 121.

THERE'S a Wednesday lunchtime recital by young Russian pianist Anna Kavelerova of pieces by Chopin and Schumann at St Cuthbert's Church, North Road, Durham (1pm, admission pounds 5). At Consett's Lamplight Arts Centre on Saturday March 7 (7pm) the Newcastle Male Voice Choir are in concert with The Reg Vardy Band.

The 14-year-old Chinese pianist Nansong Huang perfoms this Sunday at 3pm in the Christ Church Parish Centre, North Shields, admission pounds 7 with concessions available. In the Queen's Hall, Hexham, at 7.45pm next Friday the Sitkovetsky Trio present a programme based on Mendelssohn's D minor Trio. Ticket details: (01434) 652477.


CZECH STARS - Pavel Haas Quartet and, inset, Martin Kasik PICTURES: WWW.MARCOBORGGREVE.COM
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2009
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