Essential Classics at The National Concert Hall – Review

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john-wilsonRTÉ Concert Orchestra at The National Concert Hall – April 9th 2014

The illustrious RTÉ Concert Orchestra brightened up the National Concert Hall this Wednesday with their Essential Classics program. The Orchestra prides itself on its accessibility to all, and their wonderfully thought through programs span the canon of all the great musical genres. Having been involved with a myriad of projects and performed with such greats as Pavarotti and Lang Lang to name but a couple, the orchestra has also performed at seven European Song Contests and graced the stage at Electric Picnic. To say that this is an Orchestra with an eclectic and versatile spirit would be an understatement.

Having only taken up position of Principal Conductor in January this year, John Wilson has stunning control of the Orchestra. The repertoire for the concert was exquisitely picked and showcased the great talents of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra excellently.

Opening the concert was Brahms Academic Festival Overture. Immediately we were under the Orchestras spell. The beautifully balanced crystal clear strings punctuated the piece and led us on a mystical journey. Watching Wilson was mesmerizing. His fluid sweeping movements that changed and evolved rapidly were fascinating to watch, his agility and detailed knowledge of the music flowing though his every move.

Elgar’s Concerto for Violoncello in E minor followed Brahms. This masterpiece famously recorded by Jacqueline du Pré in 1965, is such an outstanding and powerful piece of music. The soloist Richard Harwood did great justice to the work, expressing the roller-coaster of emotions superbly. Finely balanced with the Orchestra, the Cellist was able to shine. I wish I had been on level with the performance as up in the balcony the depth of the Cello and warmth of the base notes were lost in the acoustics. None the less, it was a sterling performance of the work.

After the interval we were treated to Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty Suite. In this piece featuring the beautiful flourishing harp, we were able to hear the full volume and expanse of the Orchestras sound. Here we were able to appreciate the rich sound of the woodwind and brass sections which shone through in this stunning work.

Dvořák’s idiomatic Slavonic Dance No. 10 in E minor followed Tchaikovsky. Originally composed for piano duet, these set of dances put Dvořák on the map, and brought him his fortune. No. 10, the second piece of the second set was a fantastic addition to the concert. The gliding melody dazzlingly communicated by the Orchestra Glistened as it meandered through the melancholic yet hopeful passages.

The RTÉ Concert Orchestra ended the Essential Classics Concert with Sibelius’ anthemic Finlandia. Truly capturing the essence of the work, the famous opening echoed through the National Concert Hall embodying the spirit of the piece, the passionate and angry Character cutting through air. The short double bass section was super and really stuck out for me. I think that ending with Finlandia was an excellent program choice as it left a lasting impression.

The next performance in the NCH for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra is the world famous Bizet’s Carmen on the 31st of May. Undoubtedly it will be a performance not to miss and I advice getting tickets in advance as the concert will sell out very quickly. Needless to say I already have mine.

Review by Ruth McGovern

 

Tudor Marian

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