Classical Preview: Cello star's instrument with a few tales to tell

To find an internationally- famous cellist playing an instrument once used in an Italian marching band is, to say the least, most unusual.

But then Matthew Barley's musical interests are nothing short of eclectic, as you will find when his interesting touring programme arrives tomorrow night in Thirsk.

He was visiting one of London's famous instrument dealers to look over a very expensive Italian instrument, but saw an 18th-century cello by an almost unknown maker, played just three notes and instantly fell in love with it.

"It's got a fantastic sound for funky bass lines," he adds, believing that he would sell the instrument short if it

did nothing in life other than the classics.

"If only it could speak, it would certainly tell a tale," he jokes, having realised when he bought it that the peg in the back was part of the carrying device for marching.

One week performing famous concertos with great orchestras, the next playing modern improvised music is all part of his normal itinerary. The Thirsk recital will range from Bach to Britten and includes Kodaly's stunningly brilliant sonata.

It takes place at St Oswald's Church, Sowerby, one of North Yorkshire's major chamber music venues, which over the next five months will host Passacaglia, a Baroque period instrument group (Jan 22); a highly-talented young trumpeter, Brian McGinley (Mar 13); The Rhodes Trio playing piano trios by Mozart, Schumann and Beethoven, and a brilliant Romanian pianist, Alexandra Dariescu, in a virtuoso recital (May 14).

Matthew Barley, St Oswald's Church, Sowerby, Thirsk, Dec 11, 7.30pm. 01845 522343.