Belfast Telegraph

Trio of soloists give audience much to savour in a fitting festival finale

Clandeboye Festival: Beethoven Gala 2

By Terry Blain

The fact that it has three featured soloists — piano, violin and cello — makes Beethoven's Triple Concerto a difficult work to schedule.

At Clandeboye on Saturday evening, however, it was a natural combination, bringing together festival director Barry Douglas with Elina Vähälä and Andrés Díaz, two of the outstanding artists resident at this year's festival.

The singing line created by Díaz high on his cello, launching the central Largo, was an especially memorable moment.

In the concluding Rondo alla Polacca violinist Vähälä relished the sappy dance rhythms, and the playful joshing and jostling for position between the three soloists as the movement swashbuckles its way to the finishing tape was vividly and wittily projected.

Douglas, as ever at the heart of things, had also featured in part one of the evening's gala concert, playing Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto. Seated foursquare at a lidless concert Steinway, back to the audience, he seemed an indomitable figure, directing the musicians of Camerata Ireland with a vigour and intensity undiminished by an intensive week of performing, teaching and administrating.

There was so much here to savour — a disarmingly heartfelt Largo, the sweetly pointed contributions of the woodwind section (first oboe Dan Bates in particular), and the rhythmic snap and irrepressible joie de vivre of Douglas' own playing in the trenchant finale.

Together these two jubilant performances brought the curtain down on Clandeboye 2014, where it seems safe to say that audiences have never been more enthusiastic, nor artistic standards higher.

Over the course of the festival, music lovers have been treated not just to some of the best soloists from across the globe, but have participated in a vibrant week of performance, teaching and collaboration.

We have listened to Five Fables, translated by Seamus Heaney and brought to life in a superb score for chamber orchestra by Douglas and his young Camerata players.

The classical music gala held in Bangor's magnificent Clandeboye Estate now even branches out to also showcase some of our up-and-coming clothing designers.

This year’s fashion show was classy, if for the most part quite understated, highlighting work from the young designers of the Belfast Metropolitan College and the University of Ulster.

From Brahms to Beethoven, trad to cellos, animation, young musicians to old hands, this was an eclectic mix of high quality performance that did not suffer for stretching itself.

Belfast Telegraph


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