Festival to mark Czech connection

The Martinu Piano Trio

The Martinu Piano Trio

The tenth Leamington Music Festival Weekend opens next week with a host of treats in store, writes Clive Peacock.

Even the BBC Music Magazine lists the five-day musical treat as one of 20 unmissable events in the latest issue.

The festival is maintaining the ten-year tradition of delivering the very best trios, quartets, and ensembles from across Europe and the UK, supported by talks, a young musician platform, and the multi-talented Simon Wallfisch.

This year sees the return of many favourites – Guarneri and Martinu Piano Trios, London Haydn Quartet, my long term favourite the Martinu String Quartet with Lubomir Havlak’s dynamic leadership, the exceptional cellist Gemma Rosefield and pianist Petr Jirikovsky.

Anniversaries galore will be celebrated – Guarneri’s 30th, Martinu’s 40th, artist in residence Jane Williams’ tenth and Ensemble 360 beginning their second decade together.

Czech composers, Janáček, Dvořak, Martinu, Mysliviček, Tausky, Suk and Smetana feature prominently during the five day, the final day, Tuesday 3 May, recreating a 1998 memory of the moving performance of Sylvie Bodorova’s Terezin Ghetto Requiem. This day marks 55 years since the adaptation of the walled town of Theresienstadt as a ghetto, with the internment of ‘elderly transports’ in the transit camp.

The rich cultural life of the camp included hundreds of piano recitals, performances by four concert orchestras, chamber group and jazz ensemble productions. Works by internees, Victor Ullman, Pavel Hass and Hans Krása will be played during this special Tuesday.

Jan Smaczny, the well-known authority on Czech music will speak about these Terezin composers during Tuesday afternoon before the Festival ends with the repeat of the Bodorova commission for the 1998 Festival with Gemma Rosefield joining the Martinu String Quartet to play Schubert’s fine Quintet in C.

Leamington’s Czech connection goes back to the years 1940 to 1942, when the Czech Free Army was stationed in Warwickshire, with its headquarters at Harrington House, an imposing mansion which was demolished to make way for the Spa Centre in early 1970s.

The festival runs from Friday April 29 to Tuesday May 3.

Call 334418 or visit www.royalspacentreandtownhall.co.uk for more information or to book tickets.