Belfast Telegraph

Audience taken on Viennese whirl as Ulster Orchestra gets 2019 off to jaunty start

Vienna!, Belfast Waterfront

The Ulster Orchestra under the baton of the German guest conductor Christoph Altstaedt began its 2019 programme with a lively performance of Suppe's familiar and mostly galloping overture The Light Cavalry. (stock photo)
The Ulster Orchestra under the baton of the German guest conductor Christoph Altstaedt began its 2019 programme with a lively performance of Suppe's familiar and mostly galloping overture The Light Cavalry. (stock photo)
Alf McCreary

By Alf McCreary

The Ulster Orchestra under the baton of the German guest conductor Christoph Altstaedt began its 2019 programme with a lively performance of Suppe's familiar and mostly galloping overture The Light Cavalry.

This set the tone for an evening of mostly Viennese music by the Strauss family, with Lehar, and pieces by French and Danish composers as well.

The New Year Viennese concerts have a sameness, but this programme was a welcome mix of lesser-known compositions.

These included The Telephone Polka, nicely hammed-up by the percussion section, and the Carefree Polka.

One of the best features of the concert was the superb performance by the Israeli-American soprano Gan-Ya Ben-gur Akselrod, whose outstanding interpretation of Bernstein's Glitter And Be Gay (largely a vocal rendition of his sparkling overture to Candide) was given a deservedly special ovation by the large audience.

The international dimension was reinforced by French composer Waldteufel's well-known Skaters' Waltz, and Danish composer Lumbye's steam-filled Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop. My, how those percussion boys enjoy themselves!

No Viennese evening would be complete without The Blue Danube, which is first-class in its own right, though - as this reviewer discovered recently in Vienna - the Danube is not exactly blue.

All New Year concerts end with the redoubtable Radetzky March.

Traditionally, this piece is led by the conductor, but Maestro Altstaedt was absent from the podium throughout.

Fortunately, Tamas Kocsis directed the communal clapping with a nod of his head as he led the orchestra, sans conductor, to the triumphant ending. No doubt they could have played the Radetzky in their sleep.

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