Belfast Telegraph

Monday 27 April 2015

Composer Howard Shelley inspires a memorable evening of music at the Ulster Hall

Ulster Orchestra - Ulster Hall

The Ulster Orchestra
The Ulster Orchestra

Howard Shelley is one of the most distinguished pianists and conductors of his generation, and he inspired the Ulster Orchestra, and the large audience in the Ulster Hall, in a memorable evening of music by Mozart and Beethoven.

Shelley is a regular, and welcome, visitor to Belfast so he felt very much at home in giving an impromptu teach-in at the start about the musical connections between the two great composers.

He set the tone of the evening with his brisk approach to Beethoven's Egmont overture, and he is the first maestro, in my experience, to use an iPad when performing and conducting a piano concerto.

This marriage, not of Figaro, but one between the latest technology and 18th century music, worked extremely well in Mozart's Piano Concert No 24, with its long and complex first movement so redolent of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony.

Happily, the second half featured the Eroica itself, during which Shelly directed the Ulster Orchestra in one of the best performances of its season.

The innate beauty and drama of the second movement and the energy and musicianship of the finale were paramount in this sublime and revolutionary Beethoven masterpiece.

Finally for the technically-minded, how did Shelly operate the iPad when playing and conducting? He used his foot.

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