Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Orchestra: Warming to a pair of Nordic masters

By Alf McCreary

The Ulster Orchestra’s Nordic Masterworks concert on Friday was a tribute to the Scandinavian composers Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen on this year’s 150th anniversary of their birth.

The Nielsen Violin Concerto has been rarely heard here, but the orchestra with guest conductor Ben Gernon and soloist Baiba Skride did justice to its many moods. The Sibelius Fifth Symphony takes time to build up, and the first movement had elements of ‘clunk’ as well as power.

However, both orchestra and conductor reached the required heights in the drawn-out finale, with the Sibelius hammer blows of his music so unforgettable.

It still remains a mystery why Nielsen’s music is so rarely played in Northern Ireland, which is one good reason for attending this Friday’s Ulster Hall concert which will feature his mighty Fourth Symphony The Inextinguishable.

Four stars

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