Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Billy O'Brien & Friends


Sur ta lèvre pure, ô ma bien-aimée,
Telle aussi mon âme eut voulu mourir,
Du premier baiser qui l’a parfumée.

The dreamy  setting of Coibri  by Ernest Chausson telling of a hummingbird who sups too much love 'from the rosy cup' seemed to catch the languid mood on one of the warmest days we've enjoyed this summer.  Expressively sung by tenor Phillip Keegan with sunlight flooding  in the  Large Room from the Georgian windows, the song was just one of the many highlights of a programme presented by pianist Billy O Brien. "A concert of summer classics that will wow you" was promised in the publicity and wow us they most certainly did in the nicely balanced programme featuring  various permutations of  five performers, all young professionals in the early stages of their careers. On violin was Siobhan Doyle and Marian Power. The cellist was Yseult Cooper-Stockdale. As well as Borodin, Schumann and Elgar, we also heard a premiere of a new work by Ben Hanlon who introduced the work in his self deprecating manner. His Piano Quartet no 1 was a series of four reflections taking inspiration from eclectic sources; Autumn leaves, the rhythms of politicians names and a gruesome painting of a Pictish Warrior. The writing was lively with much colourful interplay between the parts.

An encore of Gardel's Por Una Cabeza brought the audience to their feet but that was not the end of the proceedings. Aside from the excellent musicianship displayed, the evening was extraordinary  on another front. It was packed with more than 200 patrons and many under the age 30. Not since Joanna McGregor performed here have I seen a full house for a classical music programme. When the music stopped, another soundscape kicked in. The sound of  buzz of conversation resonated in the room for a long time as the audience which included many family and friends of the musicians lingered to chat, take some snaps and generally  savour the magic. Bravo Billy and Friends and Ben Hanlon. It was marvellous!.


 

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Second Heaven of Desire in Old Tramore

Anyone walking around the Lafcadio Hearn Gardens in Tramore on a fine summer day might well imagine that they were in heaven. The beautiful gardens were designed in a Japanese spirit as an homage to an Irish writer who embraced the culture of his adopted homeland and wrote extensively on Japanese folklore and beliefs. Hearn spent childhood summers in Tramore as did the composer Paul Hayes who now lives in Japan. 'The Second Heaven of Desire in Old Tramore'   is a  setting of a short story from one of Hearn's collections. Hayes goes further and "imagines himself looking down from "heaven" on his own and Hearn's memories of Tramore". Hayes enlisted Donnacha O'Maidin to record theDawn Chorus in the gardens to form part of the piece.  The work will be premiered at a piano recital at the Large Room, City Hall Waterford, one of a plethora of events celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan.

The programme will be performed by renowned pianist Satako Inoue and will include works by Japanese composers Takemitsu and Tanako and a work by Donegal based composer, John McLachlan.

Satoko Inoue

   piano recital

City hall Waterford

Tues June 27th 8pm

Tickets €10/ €5



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Earthquake in Krakow:


photo Wojciech Wandzel









I'm on my first visit to Poland. There was a nip and the smell of smoked sausage in the air when I arrived early on the overnight train from Prague and the horses drawn carriages were just beginning their first circuits of the Stare Miasto . The attraction is Misteria Paschalia, a week long festival dedicated to early sacred music with events taking place nightly in various venues around the historic city. The programme last night featured the exhumation of a 'sepulchro', a  rare sacred opera by a 17th century Italian composer unknown to me, Antonio Draghi. First performed in Vienna, Il Terremoto is described in the handsome programme notes as being a 'a Hallowed Play for the Holiest Sepulcre of Christ in the Most Magnificent Chapel of her Holy Roman Majesty Empress Eleanor'. The experience was like seeing a Fra Lippi, Renaissiance painting come to life with an early music sound track provided by the elegant and spirited playing of the combined forces of Polish and French Baroque ensembles, Arte dei Suonatori and La Poeme Harmonique under Vincent Dumestre. A terrific ensemble effort, among the most unusual voices heard was that of  counter tenor Domenique Visse. I loved the sound of the wire strung harp and I've never seen a viola de gamba player play his instrument like a lute before. The setting, the chiaroscuro lighting effects, the costumes and the dramatic performances  made this quite unlike any oratorio experience I've had to date. Superb!

As I conclude, the Virgin Mary, the Centurian, San Giovanni have just got into a taxi outside my hotel. It seems like a parallel universe to see the performers in civies.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Acis and Galatea Given a C&W Makeover




I caught the second night of  the latest Opera Theatre Co. production last night at the Watergate Theatre. The nymphs and shepherds of Handel's pastoral opera, Acis and Galatea  get a  country and western makeover and are transformed to line dancing, smirting young 'uns out for a night in their  local pub . A revolving set moves us from the cosy interior to the back door smoking area Mostly the conceit works well although occasionally the ancillary action distracts  from the singer  and I believe no one should have to sing while simultaneously managing a costume change.

The singing is  terrific throughout the ensemble. Eamonn  Mulhall fresh from his appearance at the National; Theatre Amadeus and Susanna Fairbairn are the ill fated lovers. Andrew Gavin impressed as Damon and Edward Grint was Polyphemus transformed to  a sinister bar room bully.

 If you are going , I suggest you sit near enough the orchestra so that you can watch Peter Whelan in action. Directing  from the harpsichord, it was a pleasure to watch this dynamic performer mould and shape his forces. Special mention to the wind who worked hard on oboe, piccolo and recorder to add distinctive pastoral colour to the score.



Handel' Acis and Galatea  is on a nationwide tour. It arrives in Waterford's Theatre Royal  next Monday . I see that the Dun Laoghaire date is sold out. If you have the time I suggest a mini break in the South East where you can enjoy your own pastoral bliss on the newly opened Waterford Greenway. Walk or cycle the rural coastal pathway which runs between the medieval port city and Dungarvan. The opening took place 50 years to the day of the final train journey along the route There was a wonderful atmosphere at the official opening. The Barrack Street Concert Band serenaded
passers by at the starting point in Carriganore . The sun split the stones and the sense of local pride was palpable. We are truly blessed to have such outstanding natural beauty on our doorstep and bravo to county manager, Michael Walsh and everyone who had the vision to see this project through.

Jennifer O Connell's piece on Waterford Grehttp://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/ireland/waterford-s-46km-greenway-opens-for-cyclists-and-walkers-1.3022201
enway here



Tour dates for Acis and Galatea here http://www.opera.ie/whats-on/acis-galatea-1







 


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend Round Up

The Bells The Bells 
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds,
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing.[9] 

Is there any more cheerful sound than the plangent peal of church bells ringing out on the quiet of a Sunday morning. I was at Christchurch Cathedral, Waterford this morning where many gathered for the Sunday morning service. Dean Maria Jansson welcomed former president Mary McAleese where spoke eloquently on the theme of immigration. After the service, all gathered outside to hear the newly restored bells ting out after a silence of almost two years. Patsy McGarry's piece here
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/waterford-church-bells-to-ring-out-against-xenophobia-1.2966781
The Cathedral Choir looked splendid in their red and white cassocks. Chiming perfectly with the sentiment of the occasion, the opening hymn was All People That on Earth Do Dwell. I loved the Henry Purcell anthem, Rejoice in the Lord Always and organist Eric Sweeney's rendition of a Carrillion by Louis Vierne. The Gospel Choir closed the programme with Bob Dylan's, Chimes of Freedom

When the Parade Passes By
 

I am not big devotee of parades and the notion of us all rushing out to march up and down during a month when our weather is at its most capricious strikes me as a form  of national folly. My heart goes out to the bands that have flown in from sunnier climes to march through our grey windswept streets. However, The best parade is your local one and  I thoroughly enjoyed Tramore's effort  this year. All local human life was here  marching and  perambulating through the streets of the seaside town. Pipers, dancing children, Roses in high heels and tractors-lots of tractors, little and large trundled through. It all took about twenty minutes which is just long enough to be standing around on a cold March afternoon. Watch the Tramore Parade here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNBJ2GNW52A

Reprise of Jim Nolan play: Good to meet  Garrett Keogh in Waterford today. The actor is in town for the performance of Jim Nolan's play at Garter Lane tomorrow (Monday) before the team embark on a nationwide tour. My report from the premiere last March here. Ihttp://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2016/03/johnny-i-hardly-you-at-garter-lane.html