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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rare sighting of Four Fagotti: Limerick Verdi Requiem

I am just back from playing for a wonderful Verdi Requiem in Limerick, closing a 49 year interval since the work was last performed there.  An impressive operation combined the forces of a terrific 100 strong  choir, four excellent soloists and a fifty strong orchestra under the  baton of Malcolm Green. It was a marvelous endeavour and wonderful to be part of it! Among the audience at the full house was Kieran O Gorman, director of the LCU from 1966-72 and who I believe was at the helm when the work was last performed by the ensemble.

I was amazed to see lined up behind my desk, like some rare alignment of planets, four of that rare and slender reed-the bassoon, adding a double strength  darkness to the rich orchestral palette. There is nothing like bassoons to strike a mood of  'wrath, calamity and misery'. I am sending a special round of virtual applause to the fine quartet, Michael Dooley, Keith Sutherland, Arthur Fallon and Michael Sexton.   If that wasn't excitement enough, a triumph of no less than eight trumpets led by the formidable Sharon Brookes  blew the cobwebs out of the UCH rafters with a 'marvelous scattering of sound'
Bassoons warm up at LCU rehearsal

On bassoon matters, I note that one  of tonight''s quartet, Michael Dooley will feature as soloist in a Mozart Concert at the UL Summer Proms on May 9th continuing a trend of showcasing less frequently heard instruments from this ensemble conducted by Liam Daly.
Bassoon: The dark side of the wind: Michael Dooley 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Convincing Crusaders: Sidorova and Avital at Waterford City Hall

Displaying 20150423_221024.jpgThere is something so ephemeral about the notes emanating  from the instruments heard at City Hall, Waterford  last night. The diminutive  mandolin,  produces the most fragile of string timbres demanding quite furious finger plec action to keep the sound waves aloft. We don't think of the accordion as being delicate but from the first squeeze on the bellows, the sound is on a countdown to extinction. The collision of these two vaguely deliquescent musical forces is a rare enough occurrence.  The combination  mixed with  double measures of the platform charisma of Avi Avital and Ksenija Sidorova proved an explosive cocktail.

Much of the first half  presented a fresh take on familiar violin repertoire. Most of it worked brilliantly. Bartok's Romanian Dances sounded as though they might have been  original conceived for such a duo.The familiar gems of De Falla's Spanish Dances shimmered and  Kreisler's Prelude and Allegro lost some of it's pomposity- no bad thing at all. Only in a Bach Partita transcribed for solo mandolin, was I conscious of the limitations  of pizzicato strings to produce the sostenuto needed to fully express the depth of Bach's Chaconne

Ian Wilson 
Composer, Ian Wilson was in The Large Room to introduce his piece Spilliaerts Beach,   a neo- impressionistic musical response to the painting Moonlit Beach by the Belgian painter. Wilson has two pieces premiering next week, at Drogheda and Cork Choral Festival.
Schnittke sounded a bit daunting
Not a bit.
Soloists with Latvian guests
Revis Fairytale was a smashing showcase for solo accordion evoking the humour and pathos of Gogol's stories, delivered with great charm and flair by Sidirova. Then it was off to a more grown up milieu  of Buenos Aires nightlife for a slice of   Piazzola's, Tango Nuove The final concerto by 20th century composer Budashkin gave both a chance to show off their impressive virtuosity and drew the audience to their feet.  Following sustained applause there was  a Czardas lollipop before the charismatic duo  were released from the podium  to meet audience members.
 Photo Plaza Waterford Peter Crann 
With their great flair, skill and charm,  Sidirova and Avital are bright sparks on the classical music scene and  convincing crusaders for these somewhat exotic instruments.  A wonderful,  entertaining  finale to the 73rd Waterford-Music season.

Related Posts Preview Cathy's Reviews

 several radio interviews  Marty /Arena

Béla Bartók (1881- 1945)
Romanian Folk Dances
Jocul cu Bâtă | Brâul | Pe Loc | Buciumeana | Poarga Românească | Mărunţel

Manuel de Falla (1876–1946)
From “Siete Canzoni Popolari Spagnole”
6 Canzoni Popolari Spagnole
El Paño Moruno | Asturiana | Jota | Nana | Canción | Polo

J. S. Bach (1685 - 1750)
Partita BWV 1004 in D minor / Chaconne
Fritz Kreisler (1875 - 1962)
Prelude and Allegro
Ian Wilson
Spilliaert's Beach

Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998)
Revis Fairytale
1. Chichikov’s Childhood 2. Officials 3. Waltz 4. Polka

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
Histoire du Tango
Café 1930 | Night-club 1960

Nikolai Budashkin (1910-1988)

Concerto in A mino


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Globe trotting Accordion and Mandolin duo stop off in Waterford

Siderova and Avital taking less travelled instrumental paths

 I was chatting to Miks Zarins, this week, the maitre d' at the Theatre Royal Café who hails from Latvia (Do pop in and sample the amazing beetroot and goats cheese quiche. ) . He tells me that you cannot get a ticket for love nor money when Ksenija Sidorova plays in Riga. Ms Sidorova plays the piano accordion. She comes to Waterford  on Thursday with mandolin player Avi Avital as part of a Music Network tour.  Even   non musicians will be aware that the accordion has not always enjoyed much of the limelight in the classical music world or indeed the traditional music world. In a recent documentary on the piper, Tomás O Canainn, I was surprised to learn that the esteemed academic had played the piano accordion until persuaded to take up the 'more suitable' uilleann pipes by Sean O Riada.

Oen Murray

One of my favourite classical performers is accordionist Dermot Dunne who came to prominence as an RTE Musician of the Future in 1996 and who has since done much to advance the status of the accordion in Ireland. Dunne went all the way to Russia to study and I assumed that Ms Sidorova also came through a Russian system. I was surprised to learn that she came to the Royal Academy in London. where she studied with Owen Murray who set up the first accordion dept in a Bristish conservatoire in 1986 .

Dermot Dunne

Though still in her twenties, Sidorova has been been blazing a trail with her accordion around the world and collaborating with the biggest stars in the classical music firmament. I enjoyed this interview with Ms Sidorova where she has interesting observations on the buttons versus key question.


She comes to Ireland with another musician who has explored the possibilities of an unusual instrument. Avi Avital is a Grammy award winnning mandolin player who. is intent on pushing the instrument beyond it's genteel salon repertoire. Last month, for instance he was in the Wigmore Hall with counter tenor Andreas Scholl. You can read an interview with him from the Austin Chronicle here   Here is a snippet 

AC: Why do you love playing the mandolin?

'AA: I definitely find an advantage of playing a unique instrument because I always had a creative freedom with the projects I choose to do. Young pianists and violinists take the great violinists and pianists into consideration and probably choose the same repertoire for the same recital halls and competitions. For mandolin, we don't have too many masterpieces, so the excitement of my path is invented. Every project opens another door. I feel that everything is possible'.
Curiously Avital's first teacher in Israel was a Russian violinist. There was no job for a violin teacher  but there was a pile of unused mandolins and as the fingering and strings are the same, it was a manageable leap, Much of the programme is transcriptions of well known violin reperoire. I am looking forward to hear a new take on familiar pieces. 
Composer, Ian Wilson will attend the Waterford concert and introduce his piece. They will give a workshop in the afternoon at 4.00pm  for WIT students and observers are welcome.

There  won't be too many opportunities to hear either of these two unusual instruments solo let alone in tandem and by such highly rated players . This is the final recital in the 73rd season of Waterford-Music chamber series. Come early and take in the masterclass and two excellent  exhibitions nearby, Connections is  at Greyfriars Gallery and Kate Q-P Black and white images of urban New York are at Central Hall.

Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances
de Falla: 6 Canzoni Popolari Spagnole
Bach: Partita BWV 1004 in D minor / Ciaccona
Kreisler: Prelude and Allegro
Wilson: Spilliaert's Beach
Schnittke: Revis Fairytale
Piazzolla: Histoire du Tango
Budashkin: Concerto in A minor

Full details of Music Network Tour Ksenija Sidorova and Avi Avital 

More details on Waterford Music recital series celebrating 73 seasons!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Superb Song Duo : Flavin & Matthewman at City Hall Waterford

Máire Flavinand Gary Matthewman in the Georgian Large Room City Hall Waterford.

Winning Song Team deliver Love in Spring at City Hall

Schumann Widnung; Die Lotusblume; Du bist wie eine Blume; Fruhlinghshnacht
Wolf Er ist’s; Im Fruhling; An eine Aolsharfe; Zitronenefalter
Strauss Allerseelen; O Susser Mai; Fruhlingsgedrange; Morgen
Chausson; Le temps de Lilas; Les Papillons; Le Callibri
Reynaldo Hahn Le Rossignol des Lilas; Ah Chloris; Printemps
WV Wallace: Sweet Spirit, o hear my prayer, Say my heart can this be love; Orange Flowers
Encore Gershwin  Summertime

There was a great sense of occasion in City Hall as Máire Flavin made her debut in Waterford, the birthplace of her parents. The recital, part of the Waterford-Music series was dedicated to Elizabeth Downey, founder member of the chamber music society celebrating 73 years of activity. Taking her cue from the April date, the soprano built a programme around lieder and chanson dedicated to Love and Spring with a soupçon of American Summer for an encore.

Opening with  Widnung, Schumann’s passionate dedication to his bride Clara, Flavin from the off displayed the vocal fire power and stage artistry that propelled her to the finalist rostrum at the 2011 Cardiff Singer of the World and on to international opera stages. A rich and full bodied voice with her pleasant stage manner and range of dramatic expression made for an intense and  enthralling performance.  From ‘light touch' Schumann she moved to 'angsty Wolf’. In An eine Aolsharfe, the superb pianism of Gary Matthewman in creating an almost orchestral palette of sound was astonishing. A ravishing postlude to Morgen, a wedding present by Richard Strauss to his wife  closed the first half in a mood blissful rapture.
Birds , butterflys and flowers proliferated in the second half chansons by Chausson and Hahn. The most familiar of which was Ah Chloris with resonance in Bach’s air. In a nice touch,  the lilac theme was picked up in the platform display of purple blooms.. Finally by request we heard a set of charming Victorian ballads by local  favourite WV Wallace which suited the drawing room ambience of the splendid chamber. Beautifully dressed in fuschia gown with lace detail and formal tails, the pair looked as though they could have stepped off the set of Downton Abbey where indeed, Matthewman has done some service. 
 This was a thrilling performance from an exciting singer, all the greater for the superb artistry of  Matthewman whose vivid  piano colours and breath-taking timing  created the enchantment around  Flavin's  magical vocal encounters. A night to treasure  from a winning song team! I don’t expect to hear a finer collaboration any time soon.

Among the distinguished guests were members of the Downey family and Jim and Moira Flavin.

Related Posts

Interview Maire Flavin

Remembering Elizabeth Downey


Friday, April 17, 2015

Joining the dots at Greyfriars

Displaying photo.JPG

The Waterford Municipal Collection has many very fine works. Connections is an exhibition that seeks to explore the links between works from various periods from 1860 to the present.  The exhibition opened officially tonight at Greyfriars Municipal Art Gallery.  I spoke to curator, Ruth Brennan at the launch. You can hear that interview here. 

There was a pleasant ambience in the former ecclesiastical space and plenty of interest in the 30 selected works. I liked the Card Players by Eileen Murray which has been moved from it's usual spot in the Theatre Royal for the exhibition.

The exhibition also includes some of the most prominent pieces from the Municipal Collection, including While Grass Grow (1936) by Jack B. Yeats, curator Ruth Brennan's favourite painting.

Ruth refers to Donald Teskey described in notes provided as a living contemporary 'Expressionist landscape painter'

Admission to Greyfriars Municipal Art Gallery is free. Opening hours: 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday (including lunchtimes). Connections runs until Sunday, 10th May.

Les Retrouvés Danny Lartigue

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Irish Songmakers presents Cara O Sullivan at NCH

Per la gloria d'adoravi Bononcini 1625?-1750
Amarilli mia bella       Giulio Caccini 1546-1618
O del mio dolce ardor  Gluck               1714-1787
Hark the Echoing Air              Purcell  1659-1695
Music for a While 
Sweeter than Roses
I Know Where I'm Goin           Hughs 1882-1937
The Gartlan Mother's Lullaby
The Spanish Lady 
Displaying photo.JPGCuatro Madrigales Amatorios  Joaquin Rodrigo 1901-1999
Dream Valley    Roger Quilter  1877-1953
Weep No More Sad Fountains 
Love's Philosophy
Toselli's Serenade
Someone is sending me Flowers Shoestring Revue Harnick /Baker arr Roger Vignoles

It is 25 years since she won the RTE Musician of the Future, Cara O Sullivan reminded her audience at the John Field Room yesterday .  In her preamble, the soprano painted a picture of   a timid ingenue gently propelled onto the NCH stage by host Mike Murphy, unused to the big stage and orchestra. It was hard to imagine the Cork diva as anything other than a fearless performer who  imbued her song recital  at a packed John Field Room with the spirit of a  hooley in the kitchen.
The diverse programme spanned centuries and took in a number of genres. Opening with an attractive clutch of Baroque arias, she showed off the gorgeous rich velvety tone that has earned her success. My favourite of the set was  Caccini's, Amarilli mia bella,  sensitively  delivered with a subtle range of dynamic.  Next a Purcell set, some of which was not quite tamed yet, work in progress as the diva remarked herself.  Pianist Niall Kinsella did full justice to Hugh's clever arrangements of familiar  Irish folksongs.

Rodrigo's attractive Spanish songs were unfamiliar to me and suited O Sullivan's warm rich timbre very well.   A cabaret number , Someone is sending me flowers from The Shoestring Revue showed off her flair for comic timing .

The event was presented by Irish Songmakers' an inititaive of Niall Kinsella, who acted as impressario and musician  for the occasion. It is good to see a young performer showing such entrepreneurial flair . There is a good demand for daytime, shorter events I believe. There were many singers in the audience to support one of their tribe. It would have been good to have had texts and translations for the foreign language numbers and a solo spot on piano here and there would have not gone amiss and served to give   the vocalist some respite during an intense programme.

Related posts Pagliacci for Everyman

Punk Baroque Delight Dido and Aeneas Cork


Friday, April 10, 2015

Remembering Elizabeth Downey.

Elizabeth Downey

Thursday 16th April is a very special occasion in the Waterford Music calendar. The Downey family mark their unique association with the Waterford Music Chamber series with their support for a recital in memory of one of the founder members. Elizabeth Downey was herself a renowned teacher and performer. More detail on this important figure in the musical life of the city is here in this piece by Charlotte de Cloet Downey composed in 2013 on the occasion of the first Elizabeth Downey memorial recital,
'Singing and voice production were the main teaching subjects, according to her name plate, of renowned Waterford music teacher Elizabeth Downey. Born in London in 1895, she was to be the youngest daughter of the Irish literary publisher and writer, historian and journalist Edmund Downey (1856-1937). In 1906 the family moved back to Ireland, where her father bought The Waterford News and The Evening News, the daily newspapers of which he would be managing director and editor till his death.

Elizabeth, after graduating from the Royal College of Music London as pianist and mezzo-soprano, set up a teaching practice for private pupils in Newtown, Waterford and taught music at the local Ursuline School. Training young singers to compete in annual Feis Ceoil, she achieved a high level of success, with several pupils as prize winner each year. As a teacher in Voice Production she instructed many members of the local clergy in the proper use of their voice in their public ministry.
At many concerts all over the country, she also performed herself as a mezzo soprano, and she was a frequent guest performer on Radio Eireann.
As classical music correspondent she contributed frequently to her father’s newspaper The Waterford News.
Her passion for quality classical music drove her to become one of the four founding members of the Waterford Music Club. In her house in Waterford’s Newtown, in the summer of 1942, the inaugural committee meeting took place, with the other founding members Ida Starkie-O’Reilly, William F Watt and T F H Bayly. Nowadays, 72 years later, the (inter)national chamber music concert society, renamed as Waterford~Music, is still going strong, after having presented over 570 concerts, mainly in the Large Room.
There and in all her other musical activities she always insisted on the highest professional standards, standards which she herself nourished by continuing to take  courses at the RCM in London each summer, the war years excepted.
In 1965, after many years of persuasion, she agreed at an advanced age, to move to Dublin to teach singing at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She rapidly built up a substantial number of pupils. Unfortunately, she was killed in a road accident in 1967, before her work as a model music teacher had gained the national recognition it merits.'

Waterford Music also remember the late Maurice Downey, half brother of Elizabeth who passed away last November.

More on the guest artists, Máire Flavin and Gary Matthewman in my next post

On Thursday 16th April , supported by the Downey family, Waterford Music will commemorate Elizabeth Downey, this great Waterford music teacher.

Máire Flavin (oprano) and Gary Matthewman (piano) will present a special song and lieder recital with Schumann's ‘Widnung'Lieder’, Strauss, Hahn and Chausson . Specially for this event, songs by William Vincent Wallace are included

Thursday 16th April @8pm, Large Room, City Hall, Waterford

Door tickets: €18/€5 (students). Talk to us about great value season tickets for next year. All tickets include free interval soft drinks.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Siobhán Doyle String trio at Edmund Rice Centre

Displaying Updated Concert Poster jpg.jpg

A visit to the Edmund Rice Heritage Centre has been on my to do list. I was glad to get notice of a chamber music event there tomorrow evening. Siobhán Doyle has impeccable Waterford connections. Her grandfather Jim is a stalwart member of Waterford Male Voice Choir. Her dad Seamus is one of the driving forces behind the music project at St Agnes Crumlin. I am looking forward to hearing  these rising stars of the classical music scene.  Here is an extract from the press release. See you there!

'Siobhán Doyle (violin) and Clíona Ní Choileáin (cello) are final year students at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Both former leaders of their prospective sections in the National Youth Orchestra, their music careers have seen them perform in China, the USA, the United Arab Emirates and extensively throughout Europe. 
Caoilfhionn Ní Choileáin is a prizewinning guitarist from Cork. Currently learning with Jerry Creedon at the CIT Cork School of Music, she has also played for John Williams, one of the world's foremost guitarists.
Individually, they have all performed at the Áras an Uachtaráin. All keen chamber musicians, they have each attended the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, receiving masterclasses from world renowned artists.,