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Ulster Orchestra: Twin helping of virtuosity goes down a real storm

Ulster Hall

By Alf McCreary

One sure way of filling the Ulster Hall for a classical concert is to stage two masterpieces in one programme, and that's what happened on Friday evening.

The orchestra, under music director Rafael Payare, performed Beethoven's Symphony No 6 and Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major to a capacity audience including - happily - a large number of young people.

Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony is a work that most music lovers have heard many times, and the aim must be to make it sound fresh and exciting.

Payare and the ensemble did this with great pace and panache, and the genuine thunder in the allegro made the subsequent pastoral beauty seem like a shaft of musical sunshine.

Alina Ibragimova, the scheduled soloist in the Violin Concerto was indisposed, so the role was taken over by internationally-renowned Viviane Hagner.

Despite a slightly thin sound at the start, she and the orchestra gave a stunning performance of this demanding but timeless favourite, ending in sustained and deserved applause.

The entire concert was reminiscent of the much earlier reign of the recently-guesting Yan Pascal Tortelier, who is very much his own man.

The chemistry between the players and the current music director continues to produce outstanding performances. Catch them together while you can.

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