The finale of the Ulster Bank Festival at Queen's is a special occasion and last night's in a packed Ulster Hall was no exception.
The well-planned programme from Wagner through to Richard Strauss and Mahler had a range of light and shade, well underlined by the Ulster Orchestra under the baton of Belfast-born Roy Loughlin, and distinguished soprano Katherine Broderick.
Wagner's overture The Mastersingers of Nuremburg is attractive in itself, and last night's performance was a reminder of how the other two featured composers had shaped the Austro-German romanticism which he had embodied earlier, and which Mahler bridged into the modernism of his own time.
Richard Strauss wrote his Four Last Songs in 1948 at the age of 84. These works are more than a requiem for romanticism, and soprano Broderick 's evocative performance brought out all the tenderness, acceptance and fulfilment of life and death in these beautiful compositions, particularly At Sunset...
She also featured in the final movement of Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Mahler is always a challenge, but the romanticism was fully represented in this performance of a work where the composer had a perhaps innocent, child-like, view of death – before he faced the reality.