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

Friday, May 24, 2019

Myth and Magic at the Gaiety

Oval Victorian Splendour

Daylight gave a bright lustre to the red velvet and mahogany fittings of the  plush interiors of The Gaiety Theatre and it was pleasant to dawdle in the comfortable bars of Dublin's Victorian pleasure palace on a midweek afternoon in anticipation of the first matinée performance of Mozart's Magic Flute from Irish National Opera. A different sort of vibe prevailed than is usual at an evening event, The audience a little less voluble with the younger and older generations more fully represented than usual in  the house which looked about 75% full.

Wren boy Ring 
Morrigans meet the boys
There was a  enticing storybook quality to Caroline Staunton's staging with an abundance of vivid colours and textures. The characters looked as though they are plucked from the handsome  illustrations of either Celtic myths or a Dickens novel.Sets and lighting by Ciaran Bagnall created a magical setting that was very beguiling. A confluence of  elegance flowed from the stage design to the historic venue itself.  The oval two tier set was echoed in the auditorium as though it been cut to fit this space.  Strong performances across large cast  and a 24 strong chorus.  A red cloaked Anna Devin was terrific as Pamino. Kim Sheehan as Queen of the Night re imagined as a stooped and horned pooka hit all the high notes with crystal clear accuracy. Gavan Ring dressed as a wren boy  made much merriment from the role of Papageno. Nick Pritchard was an excellent Tamino. Andrew Gavin impressed as Monostatos. There was a hint of "The Greatest Showman" in Lukas Jakobski's Sarastro in top hat and scarlet coat.  Berlin bound Padraic Rowan  made an impression in the minor  role of speaker. The Irish Chamber Orchestra worked hard in the sunken pit. The woodwind ensemble sounding so clear and effortless in this acoustic. Fiona Kelly on flute and Richard McGrath  on glockenspiel provided the sprinkling of instrumental  fairy dust.
'The Greatest Showman'
The production ended the 18/19 season of the company. Any qualms about INO maintaining the high bar set by the opening production of Marriage of Figaro were quelled in this fantastic production which proved a superb bookend for the season. Bravo tutti!

The production finishes on Sunday with another afternoon performance on Saturday. Well worth an excursion.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Weekend Roundup May 20th: Sea Shanties, Sensational Symphonies and Sunday Songs

The Irish Baroque Orchestra brought their latest project to Christchurch Cathedral on Friday night as guests of Symphony Club of Waterford. It was sensational. The guest director, Kristian Bezuidenhout directing from the harpsichord was mesmerizing and there was a super-charged intensity to the performance. It was thrilling to sit close up and feel the energy transfer from director to players as Bezuidenhout rose and fell, oscillating between shaping a phrase at the console and with a graceful flourish of his hands. I found myself musing on some of the late Fergal Qunn's retail advice. The 15 or so players were a good fit with the proportions of the beautiful Georgian cathedral space. Quinn's advice to retailers was to replace fruit baskets with smaller ones as stock dwindled so that the baskets always looked full and the produce more appealing to the shopper's eye. Matching the venue to the forces assembled is a important factor and in that repect, this event was more satisfying that the first SCOW event event where a paino trio and reduced symphony orchestra looked and sounded underpowered in the 'larger basket' of the WIT Arena.

The repertoire was interesting. I had never heard of Erlebach and the IBO made a convincing case for the merit of his music. Like JS Bach, he wrote 5 cycles of Lutheran canatas. The programme notes (posted below) were very scant extending only to a set list and members list. In the abscence of some background, a few spoken introductions would have helped to set some contexts.

Well done to SCOW for yet again in bringing high quality performers to our doorsteps.

Sea Shanties in Dunmore East

Dordán at Nimmo 200
Dunmore East,  Co Waterford  was a perfect setting for a  festival dedicated to the music of sea faring. Sea shanty groups converged on the fishing village for, Nimmo 200.  It was as if a scene from the film, Fisherman Friends had come to life.  Local group Hooks and Crooks as Festival hosts kicked off the proceedings at a gala concert at St Andrew's Church. There was a eurovision vibe with groups from The Netherlands and Norway adding the international flavour to the event. Dordán under Damien Kehoe were best in show with a a great rendition of Regina Coeli and the Rugby Word Cup Anthem, World in Union. Balladeer Richie Roberts was MC. All the events were free and it was a cheerful edition the local festival calendar. It was my first visit to this picturesque church built with local red sandstone.

Programme note on Alexander Nimmo tell us that he was born in Fife in 1883 and came to Ireland to join the Commission for the Bogs of Ireland. In 1814 he designed  a new harbour, pier and lighthouse for Dunmore East. "We are delighted to acknowledge the contribution of Alexander Nimmo to the development of Dunmore East,; the fine lighthouse in the harbour is a true testament to his ingenuity and engineering skills."

Pub Gigs Karen and Fitz at Murph's Bar Tramore.

Karen and Fitz 

Continuing our trail of local pub gigs, we made our way down the hill to Murph's Bar in Tramore where we enjoyed an eclectic and entertaining set of covers from duo Karen and Fitz on guitar and bass for a sparse Sunday night audience. I specially liked a mashup of Blue Moon of Kentucky and Working 9 to 5.

Programme: Irish Baroque Orchestra
Handel – Trio Sonata in G major, HWV 399/Op. 5, Nr. 4 (arranged by Kristian Bezuidenhout)

Telemann: Sonata a 6 in G minor, TWV 44:33

JS Bach: Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052


Erlebach: Overture Nr. 4, in D minor

from Ouvertures Avec Leurs Airs À La Manière Française

Telemann: Wassermusik Overture

Irish Baroque Orchestra are delighted to welcome world renowned guest director, Kristian Bezuidenhout, to Ireland once more for his first performance with the orchestra.

One the world’s finest harpsichord virtuosos, Bezuidenhout turns his soloistic talents towards Bach’s D minor harpsichord concerto which is beautifully complemented by Telemann’s Tafelmusikwhile mythological creatures of Neptune and water nymphs are all depicted in his famous Wassermusik.