Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Orchestra review: Triumph in the face of financial adversity

By Alf McCreary

The Ulster Orchestra is facing a huge financial threat to its very existence, but in Friday's concert in front of a large Ulster Hall audience the players performed with the flair of gifted musicians determined to stay in business.

Under the young French conductor Alexandre Bloch, the first half highlight was Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin and Piano. It was performed with aplomb by the Orchestra's associate leader Iona Petcu-Colan on violin and Belfast-born pianist Michael McHale whose professional career is becoming ever more impressive. The combination of the Ulster Orchestra and local soloists underlined the huge musical talent on our doorstep.

The second half performance of Mozart's Haffner Symphony was a serene feast of well-played music for troubled times, but the best part of the evening was the Ulster Orchestra's confident and sparkling performance of Prokofiev's so-called Classical Symphony which showed the Russian composer's youthful and budding genius in its full complexity and harmony.

The Ulster Orchestra thoroughly deserved the warm and sustsained applause from the appreciative audience. There is no way that this talented band of musicians who give such pleasure to all sides of the community in Northern Ireland, and further afield, should be allowed to go under by its funding masters.

Four stars

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