Belfast Telegraph

Review: Ulster Orchestra ends the year with a flourish

Ulster Orchestra at the Ulster Hall, Belfast

By Alf McCreary

The Ulster Orchestra’s Christmas concert in the presence of a jam-packed audience in the Ulster Hall was a tribute to the skill and staying power of these fine musicians in difficult times — and also the deep affection with which they are held by a large section of the Northern Ireland public.

Tamas Kocsis, happily returning after a long absence, doubled as soloist and director, and showed a neat line in patter as he introduced each item. 

The orchestra is fortunate to have a leader with this gift for verbal communication, which is also shared by their principal guest conductor Jac Van Steen.

The classical world needs to communicate better to the wider  public to underline that this music can be inspiring, though-provoking and also fun.

The concert was an attractive mixture of Rossini, in his elegant Cinderella Overture, which comes to life after his laborious introduction.

This was followed by Corelli’s short, but enchanting, Christmas Concerto, in which the orchestra fully captured the verve and delicacy of this work.

It was followed by Mozart’s Sleigh Ride and then Vivaldi’s Winter from his Four Seasons.

The concert ended with music from Tchaikovsky’s ageless Nutcracker Suite, complete with celesta, played by Dearbhla Collins.

It is unthinkable that this might have been one of the Ulster Orchestra’s last concerts.

My hunch, and hope, is that they will be given a Christmas present of survival, and with the support of the public and funders, go on to even greater things.

Four stars

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