Galway whistles up a real treat as orchestra sparkles
Ulster Orchestra, Waterfront Hall
The Ulster Orchestra, under its music director Rafael Payare, gave Friday's Culture Night a huge carnival of rhythm at its gala concert in a well-filled Waterfront Hall.
The superbly-played opening of Bernstein's Symphonic Dances showed that this outstanding conductor was also a formidable classical and popular composer in his own right.
The Venezuelan excerpt from Aldemaro Romero was less than memorable, and the main centrepiece of the evening was a new composition by Bill Whelan of Riverdance fame for the orchestra's artist laureate, Sir James Galway.
Titled Linen And Lace, the piece worked well when Galway was in full flow, but the background structure seemed confining rather than liberating, and needs tightened up. Galway's big hit was his tin whistle tune "from the Shore Road". Galway is still a great entertainer as well as an outstanding flautist.
In the second half the orchestra was outstanding in Marquez's Danzon 2, and it made the often-hackneyed Ravel's Bolero seem fresh, intense and rewarding.
Quite the best of the evening, however, was the encore of Bernstein's sumptuous Candide overture.
What a great orchestra! Roll on the new season.