Radlett Music Club’s Czechs and balances

CONGRATULATIONS are once more in order for the Radlett Music Club for providing another outstanding evening of piano music for its members and friends.

Brilliant Czech pianist Martin Kasik launched the club’s new series of concerts at the Radlett Centre on Thursday last week with an outstanding programme of works by some of the world’s finest composers for the instrument.

His passion for the music of his native country was demonstrated in spectacular fashion in the first half which was devoted entirely to works by Chopin, Ballade No 1 in G minor, four of the Opus 24 Mazurkas and the delightful Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise.

Throughout all the works Kasik demonstrated great elegance and fluency. His easy style and a smile of obvious enjoyment did as much as his tremendous performance to show his great passion and understanding of the works.

Equally, the second half of the programme showed not only his love for his country’s music, but also his great dexterity and passion, starting with three beautifully contrasting dances by Bedrich Smetana and followed by a further three dances by the more modern Czech-born composer Bohuslav Martinu.

While the sound of the Smetana dances were much as one might expect from a composer of the late romantic period, the pieces by Martinu had a completely different, far more modern feel, including a jazziness which might reflect the many years he spent in the United States.

Apart from two outstanding encores, the concert was rounded off by Rachmaninov’s Four Preludes, the only music by a non-Czech composer to feature in the programme.

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The works themselves demonstrate Rachmaninov’s prowess as a composer for the piano and Kasik’s performance more than did justice to the work.

Throughout the evening Kasik demonstrated tremendous virtuosity and emotion and, at the same time, exuded a feeling of great warmth and charm which can often be missing in other performers.

The Radlett Music Club should also be congratulated in its choice also of an Italian-built Fazioli piano for the evening.

The crisp, clean sound quality probably explains why the make was one of those chosen for this year’s Frederik Chopin piano competition in Warsaw.

Altogether the quality of the performance produced one of the best audience reactions I have ever experienced at the club’s evenings.