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Ulster Youth Orchestra turns up the heat in summer spectacular

Ulster Hall, Belfast

By Alf McCreary

The summer concerts by the Ulster Youth Orchestra always create a buzz, and Saturday's performance in front of a capacity Ulster Hall audience was no exception.

Liszt's Les Preludes is hardly one of his most memorable works, but it was obviously chosen to showcase the UYO's many talents. And the players brought out most of the musical bravado and subtleties.

Stanford's now rarely-heard Irish Rhapsody No4 Op. 141 was as tantalising as the title, The Fisherman of Lough Neagh and What He Saw.

It provided a good platform for the UYO to display its talents. Saint-Saens' No3 "Organ" Symphony is one of the great extravaganzas of the repertoire, and from the first few bars it was clear that conductor Takuo Yuasa and the orchestra were about to deliver something special.

Some of the best playing came during Yuasa's sensitive encouragement of the gentler combination of organ.

The loud C major chord which starts the finale set the tone for an exciting climax, with organist Donal McCann, still only 15, giving an assured performance. Standing ovations are becoming two a penny, but this one for the UYO was thoroughly deserved.

Five stars

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