THE closing gala performance at the annual Clandeboye Festival has become one of the most prestigious musical and social events of the summer season – and so it proved again on Saturday.
A large audience heard Camerata Ireland and Barry Douglas in a memorable concert of music by Beethoven, Mozart and Mendelssohn. It takes a while to adjust to the acoustics of the marquee, rather than the concert hall, and the performance of Beethoven's somewhat heavy Coriolan Overture reflected the dark struggles of the hero of the piece.
However, there was nothing but sweetness and light in Barry Douglas' sparkling performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No 21. The remarkable Andante is perhaps best known to most people as the haunting theme in the film Elvira Madigan, which Douglas and Camerata Ireland interpreted with sensitivity, and there was bravura playing by Barry in the challenging final movement.
After the long, pleasant interval in the courtyard on a soft August evening, the theme of summer was maintained by Camerata's confident, indeed lyrical, performance of Mendelssohn's sunny Symphony No 4, known as The Italian, in which the joyful atmosphere of the First Movement was particularly appealing as a mood for the entire symphony. The concert ended aptly with an encore – The Londonderry Air, what else? Earlier, at the end of the first half, Barry thanked sponsors for the continuing success of the festival, but in all truth the real thanks are due to our own remarkable soloist, maestro, entrepreneur and mentor to so many talented young musicians. What would we do without Barry Douglas ... and the Clandeboye Festival?