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

Saturday, March 3, 2018

On Song: Larchet and Moore remembered at NCH

Songmakers at NCH photo Dan Butler
Two interesting song projects tempted me to make a trek to Dublin recently.  Both were brought to the platform
Promoter and Painist Niall Kinsella
by the seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm of artists who found  something new in something old. It is one thing to play well but to coordinate and manage all that needs to done in bringing an event to an audience is a big task list.  Back in January pianist Niall Kinsella presented a lovely recital of songs by John F Larchet with singers Raphaela Mangan and Gavan Ring. It seems extraordinary that these songs have not much been heard or recorded. Bernadette Greevy did include some in her repertoire but otherwise they have been little aired. The dozen or so songs were full of melody and winsome charm. I particularly enjoyed  Padraic the Fiddler. I have a copy of the sheet music with an optional  fiddle part but have never heard it performed   I gather that a recording is planned and I hope that it will include this version.  Niall Kinsella presents the next in his series on March 23rd when the theme is Songs of a Gypsy Life and features tenor Owen Gilhooly with string players, Lynda O Connor and Gerald Peregrine. The concerts take place at lunchtime in the John Field Room.

Moore Reawakened: Baritone Simon Morgan assembled a fine  roster of performers to join him on the main stage of the NCH in a programme of songs by Thomas Moore under the title Moore Reawakened We are used to hearing the songs performed with piano accompaniments as they might have been heard in the 19th century drawing rooms. Pianist Una Hunt had a big project (My Gentle Harp) using young opera singers from RIAM and DIT recently .  Here is Simon talking about his project on RTE Arena.

The Moorings merged the trad elements of Karl Nesbitt and Drazen Derek , Martin Tourish on accordion and jazz stalwarts Myles Drennan and Dave Fleming on bass. A total of 16 performers on the night  ensured there was plenty of variety. It was like a very classy sing song. The duets were some of the  highlights of the evening. Jack O Rourke sitting at the piano joined Morgan in a duet of the Last Rose of Summer and there was a lovely guitar accompaniment from John McGlynn of Silent O Moyle. Not everything worked as well as a bossa nova version of Come Oer the Sea but most of it did. Cormac de Barra's harp was somewhat submerged in the busier numbers and Eleanor McEvoy's rockabilly Oft in the Stilly Night was a bit too sassy for the gentle lyrics to bear. An album launch is due in April. I can't wait.

My Funny Valentine:Simon Morgan was in Waterford  with trumpet player,  Niall O Sullivan's band  Feb 14th. The show titled My Funny Valentine was entertaining easy listening stuff  executed with panache by the excellent band. We would have listened to Brian Connor on piano all  night. Rod Patterson on bass and Guy Rickerby on drums were admirably understated.  James Nash on guitar added a completely contrasting timbre. We  had the luxury of two vocalists and Shona Hennebry was impressive. It did have a jazz club feel to the presentation. We could have only enjoyed it more if we were sipping champagne while listening. So pour yourself a glass and  have a listen  to Shona and Niall for yourself here

Wanders in Wales

No gallivanting this week as the nation retreats into the bunkers and watches the snow show. While our sympathy is with those who have to brave the elements to keep animals fed and emergency services up and running, spare a  thought for artists and managers stuck on the road. New Music Dublin had built up a nice of head of steam in their marketing and pre publicity. How devastating is must be for those involved to have all events cancelled. Also in our thoughts are the cast and crew of Irish National Opera who were forced to pull their Sligo and Navan dates. I enjoyed the opening in Wexford and have filed a review with the arts desk of the Irish Examiner. My preview is here which featured on Ryan Tubridy's news round up on Tues 20th Fingers crossed for the remaining dates of their inaugural production. Before the memories dim here is a round up of my recent trip to Wales.

New Opera Horizons. Wales is so close to us in the South East but up 'til now I've overlooked it although I did enjoy my trip to Fishguard Music Festival a couple of years ago. After the ferry, a couple of hours by train brings you  to the capital city of Wales, home of Welsh rugby and the Welsh National Opera.  Cardiff has long been on my to do list and I finally made it last weekend. My review of Don Giovanni the final production of WNO 17/18 season was published in the Irish Examiner. There was a notable Irish interest in that it marked a role debut for Irish baritone, Gavan Ring. The weather was bright and dry but very cold and the streets were full of young family's out and about for half term break. Cardiff is not the most immediately appealing city centre for sight seeing but a trip to the city art gallery  and Cardiff Castle delivered more than I expected. The National Museum houses one of Europe's finest art collections and. Admission was free to see "Five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe's best collections of Impressionist art". Most memorable though was a gallery cleared of paintings. For  The Sky in a Room exhibition, a young lady sat an ornate organ in the centre of the dimly lit  room singing and  playing an Italian pop song with an early music  Il cielo in una stanza. Guardian review of the experience here.

More surprises behind the walls of Cardiff Castle where Will showed us around the living quarters of the Stuart family. Having made his fortune in coal, the 3rd Marquess engaged the Dermot Bannon of 19th century England, architect William Burgess to do a makeover in a lavish Gothic Revival style. Here is the charming nursery complete with tiled tableaux of favourite fairy tales. The detail in the many rooms was eye watering.

While I made the journey home by boat, I flew in to Cardiff Airport. Change for the bus was in short supply but it is useful to know that you can pay the £5 fare in euro €7.

I stayed in the Futures Inn in Cardiff Bay. The Great Western Pub near the Central Train Station was full of Friday revellers just finished work and conveniently displayed the departure times.

With a population of 3million, Wales is not that different in size to Ireland and is probably a better comparison for what model of opera provision might work than say a wealthy German city The WMC hosts all sorts of events and is not dedicated to opera. The production was playing two nights there before touring to other UK venues.