Every so often, a piece of music simply grabs you by the arm and drags you with it when you're least expecting it. I don't suppose that anyone could consider a piano trio by Vítězslav Novák to be exactly mainstream - his works aren't played all that often even in his native Czech - and while Bohuslav Martinů is considerably better known, his piano trios wouldn't feature on the list of works considered "safe" by concert promoters.

But I've just been and listened to the trio of Leoš Čepický, Gemma Rosefield and Michael Dussek running through these works in advance of their concert in Belfast this coming Saturday morning (details here, if you click in the next couple of days), and it was quite a wake-up call. It's fantastically exciting, vigorous music - challenging, certainly, compared to a nice safe Haydn or Mendelssohn piece - but really something to set the pulse racing.

The Martinů Bergerettes were my favourite, getting a spectacular array of different tones, moods and effects. Although Novák's dates are barely a decade before Martinů, his style is far more late romantic (he was a pupil of Dvořák), but his D minor Trio was still very different from anything I've heard before: it has an opening of astounding intensity, setting the scene for a work of great power (described by the composer as a work of the most profound Baudelairean pessimism).

It makes me wonder about how we choose the concerts we go to see. I'm sure that most concertgoers pick works that they know and love: we might put up with a few pieces outside our comfort zone, especially if there are trusted performers, but we're all far less likely to try a programme full of stuff we've never heard. This has the obvious effect that lesser works from Mozart or Haydn still feel "safer" to promoters than some wonderful and quite distinctive music from less familiar (and less prolific) composers. You can't blame them: after all, they're not in the business of putting on concerts for empty houses.

For anyone in Belfast who reads this before Saturday morning, I hope you recover from your Halloween chocolates and go along to Queen's University. Apart from the music being great and very, very different, the quality of the trio's playing is quite spectacular. Such was the rapport between Čepický (whose day job is as first violin of the Wihan Quartet) and Rosefield, it's hard to credit that they haven't played together all that much. The trio has the high energy of the Martinů absolutely nailed.

David Karlin 31st October 2008