Belfast Telegraph

Review: Evening of concertos a triumph for Ulster orchestra

Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. Ulster Hall, Belfast

By Alf McCreary

The Ulster Orchestra continued its successful season with a wide range of music in a jam-packed Ulster Hall on Friday night.

It began with a glowing performance of Edward Elgar's elegant Introduction and Allegro under the direction of its ever-welcome principal guest conductor Jac van Steen, who always brings out a special sound from the strings.

There was a chilling contrast in the performance of Sibelius' Symphony No 4, though for the uninitiated the introduction in the concert programme listed it as the '7th'.

This bleak, yet at times briefly lyrical work, was written during a crisis in the composer's life when he was suffering from throat cancer. Fortunately he recovered.

But his pain and fear are embedded in the work, which, technically, is one of his best, and van Steen and the ensemble gave a deeply thoughtful interpretation of this difficult piece.

It is miraculous to think that it was the same composer who went on to write his evocative and powerful Fifth Symphony, his most popular masterpiece.

The music of Anton Dvorak is also greatly popular because of its long stretches of musical sunshine, as well as the shadows.

Internationally-distinguished soloist Johannes Moser brought out all the sunshine, and a few shadows, in his superb performance of the composer's Cello Concerto.

This, too, had its moments of sadness near the end for an unrequited love, but it finished in triumph.

The soloist was rightly given a rapturous reception and he generously responded with an encore, the Sarabande from Suite No 1 by Bach.

Belfast Telegraph

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