Fitting finale to the Ulster Orchestra's season as maestro Payare shines
Review: Ulster Orchestra Ulster Hall, Belfast
The Ulster Orchestra's grand finale concert to a capacity Ulster Hall audience at the end of a highly successful season was grand indeed, with two stirring pieces by Russian composers and a performance of a Beethoven favourite concerto by a world-class pianist.
There is nothing in classical music quite as festive as the Festive Overture by Shostakovich, the composing genius who put together this piece in only three days.
Under the baton of its music director Rafael Payare, the orchestra performed this sparkling overture with all the verve and panache it deserved.
For some, however, the highlight of the evening was the performance by pianist Stephen Hough of Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto, popularly known as The Emperor.
This was a remarkable rendition by an extraordinarily gifted soloist.
He was masterly in bringing out the depth and delicacy of this tremendous concerto, particularly in the final movement.
This was a performance to savour and to remember.
The second half was devoted to Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony, an orchestral showpiece that taxes every ensemble.
The Ulster Orchestra rose to the occasion in all four movements and especially in the finale, which had its moments of gentle beauty, but which climaxed in a magnificent blaze of sound.
What a wonderful way to end a season, and what a wonderful Ulster Orchestra with maestro Payare in our midst.
The sustained applause by the appreciative and enthusiastic audience underlined this sentiment.