Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Orchestra: Tortelier hits the high notes on his return

Ulster Hall

By Alf McCreary

One of the highlights of the Ulster Orchestra's 50th anniversary season was the presence of Yan Pascal Tortelier, one of its most distinguished conductors, on the podium for a Friday night programme of English and French composers.

It was an evening of nostalgia for many who recalled Tortelier's glittering years as principal conductor from 1989-1992, during which time the orchestra blossomed enormously.

It was also a special evening for Tortelier, a former concert violinist, whose first role as a principal conductor was with the Ulster Orchestra. And he went on to follow a distinguished international career as a conductor of many of the world's major orchestras.

Happily, however, there was more than nostalgia to the special evening, which produced playing of the highest order.

The programme contained three of Tortelier's favourite pieces, including Elgar's In The South, and a powerful yet sensitive performance of Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor.

The centre piece was Tortelier's orchestration of Ravel's Piano Trio in A Minor, which he rightly regards as one of his greatest musical achievements, and which was premiered and first recorded on the Chandos label by the Ulster Orchestra some years ago.

Tortelier's chemistry with the Ulster Orchestra was legendary and it was apparent again in this concert, also with a vastly-changed group of younger musicians, plus veterans of the glory days of Tortelier as principal conductor.

He was given a deeply warm reception throughout the event, and there was a tear in many an eye as he bade his farewell, hopefully only for the time being. Yan Pascal Tortelier is welcome here at any time.

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