Howard Shelley is a pianist of considerable talent but it was as a conductor that he took centre stage in the Ulster Hall at lunchtime yesterday.
Schubert’s Fifth Symphony holds few surprises and certainly Shelley did not attempt to inject anything startling into the score, veering towards the heavenly length camp rather than the fast and sprightly brigade, resulting in a pedestrian performance.
Clara Schumann would arguably be one of the most renowned women composers. Equally famous as a concert pianist, she combined both skills in her A Minor Piano Concerto which, as the work of a 14-year-old, is remarkably indicative of her future achievements.
Chinese pianist Sa Chen gave a persuasive account of the piece. And, in the second movement, there was a touching dialogue between solo cello, delivered well by the Ulster Orchestra’s John Leeming, and piano. Hearing this, one wonders what other interesting gems history has cast aside.