Concert of the week: Britten Sinfonia

TONY COOPER The Britten Sinfonia, under the direction of Andre de Ridder, can be heard in the majestic setting of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday.


The Britten Sinfonia, under the direction of Andre de Ridder, can be heard in the majestic setting of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday (7.30pm), as part of the town's annual festival of music and the arts.

The concert (part of the Royal Philharmonic Society and the BBC Encore series) includes a rare performance of George Newson's concerto for two violins, written in 1993. It will be performed (and later broadcast by the BBC) by Jacqueline Shave and Pekka Kuusisto, a young Finnish player who embarked on his international career in 1995 at the age of 19.

The rationale behind Encore (a new initiative) is to rediscover and perform significant orchestral works by living British composers which have had too little public exposure since the excitement of their first performance.

Both violinists - who'll also be heard in Bach's double violin concerto in D minor - will relish the performance as both of them are keen purveyors of the contemporary repertoire and enjoy a flourishing and varied career. Kuusisto, renowned for his flair for tone and technique, has performed with many of the world's most prestigious orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Philharmonia orchestras. He's also appeared with such well-known conductors as Valery Gergiev, Yuri Temirkanov, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Osmo Vanska and Paavo Berglund.

And, aside from his classical activities, he is a devotee of many other musical styles including folk, jazz and electronic music. His research into traditional Finnish violin music led to his recording Folk Trip, released by Ondine.

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In the jazz field, he's recorded with Trio Töykeät and regularly teams up with other musicians for pure or progressive jazz appearances and concerts. He has an electric violin and is particularly interested in utilising the technology used in experimental music in combination with other styles, such as religious song, folk music, Bach and his own compositions.

Last year he appeared at the Barbican with the Finnish electronic jazz group, Rinneradio, as part of Herbie Hancock's festival.

He is also co-artistic director (with his brother Jaakko) of his own chamber music festival held annually at Lake Tuusula in Finland.

He plays a Giovanni Baptista Guadagnini violin of 1752 kindly loaned by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

His fellow soloist, Jacqueline Shave - well known to local audiences as leader of the Britten Sinfonia - also plays a rare instrument, too - an Italian Dalla Costa violin dating from 1752.

She received her formal training at the Royal Academy of Music in London but it was at the Britten-Pears School at Snape in Suffolk where she developed her great love of chamber music and performance inspiration.

Over the years she worked closely with many great artists including the Beaux Arts Trio, Prague, La Salle and Vermeer string quartets and led the Britten-Pears Orchestra under Rostropovich, Lutoslawski and Murray Perahia.

She has dedicated most of her time to chamber music and led the Brindisi Quartet for 15 years and the Schubert Ensemble from 1989 to 1994. With these groups she performed the core repertoire and many new commissions worldwide as well as broadcasting frequently on Radio 3. She has also appeared as guest leader of the Fibonacci Sequence, Nash Ensemble and London Sinfonietta.

The programme is completed by Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite and Mozart's Paris symphony.

Tickets £23 to £9. Tel: 01284 769505.

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