Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Gem: Pearl Fishers Live in HD

No print slot this time  for this review of a recent Met Live in HD broadcast. It was quite a sociable occasion with a large attendance. The front of house team, under Peter Shanahan at the Odeon Waterford did a good job distributing a synopsis to all and there was even cake in the interval. Prosecco next week please:)

Next in the diary: Puccini's  Turandot

Review: The Pearl

Nadir's Aria from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers - Met lIve in HD from Larry Murray on Vimeo.

Fishers Met Live in HD Odeon Waterford ****

The Met production of  Les Pecheurs de Perles broadcast on Saturday drew a larger audience than usual to the Odeon in Waterford. To date, only Lehar’s Merry Widow has proved to have more pulling power than Bizet’s exotic potboiler based on a love triangle between rival fishermen and a Hindu priestess. The opera hasn’t been performed at The Met for a century and its’ ‘rarity’ tag earned it a slot at Wexford in 1971. Beyond one lollipop, would there be enough to sustain us over an evening?

Curtain up revealed a mesmerizing underwater tableau where three aerialists simulate diving for pearls, a triumph of modern stage machinery and the art of video projection. This coup-de-theatre gave way to an intriguing set - a ramshackle waterside village on stilts crammed with a chorus in oriental peasant costume.  The muted hues were brightened with twinkling lights set on many levels and depths.  The familiar operatic duet, ‘Au fond du temple  powerfully sung by the well matched hunky duo, baritone, Mariusz Kwiecien and tenor, Matthew Polenzani as friends and rivals, Zurga and Nadir. Leila (Diana Damrau) glides in by boat to take up the position of village vestal virgin.  The stand out moment was when Nadir, alone on stage reveals that despite an oath, he and Leila have had a liaison and in je crois entendre encore, he sings an aria of rapture and yearning with such tenderness and superb  high pianissimos that you could sense the audience melt.

They resume their romance but are discovered. Leila’s lapse is blamed for a tempest and both are condemned to death.  Zurga relents and contrives to allow their escape. The Act 3 grimy office looks like the set of a Cold War drama and seems at odds with the rest of the production.

With a superb cast and stunning visual effects, the tension was maintained over 2 ½ hours. The Met Orchestra under Noseda gave a convincing account of Bizet’s score. There are many rare operas that one is glad to see once. I ‘d like to see this one again and it got a thumbs up from the Waterford audience. Brief blips in transmission reminded us of the power and fragility of the technology allowing us to share the thrills of a great house with our transatlantic counterparts. With a tea-time slot, we were home in time for MOTD. 

Broadcast on RTE LyricFM on Jan 16th available on

Next Met LIve in HD  transmission  via Classical Arts Ireland Puccini Turandot Jan 30th



Monday, December 14, 2015

Project Opera: The Dead

Looking at the line up of offerings at Dublin theatres, there is a paucity of new work as programmers return to the classics with Wilde at the Gate and Shaw at the Abbey. There was a fresh approach  to a theatrical presentation of work by  James Joyce. A new operatic setting of the short story The Dead  went down very well at the Project Arts Centre at the opening night on Wednesday. There was a good regional representation of arts folk in the full house. This is a very neat production with a octet of singers and string players that should travel very comfortable to summer festivals.

Read a review of opening night here.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Classy Finnish at the Bello Bar

       Lisa Dowdall John O Brien                                                                                    photo Juraj Jablonka

Kaleidoscope, the monthly classical music salon  has moved to a new base at The Bello Bar at Portobello, Dublin. There was a big Cork contingent in the line up last Wednesday for an evening with a strong Finnish flavour.

Marja Gaynor presided as well as playing violin and viola. We heard Lisa Dowdall play Sibelius' Valse Triste on viola accompanied by John O Brien. John played a charming waltz by Merikanto.  There were polskas from a viola duo and Baltic Folk inspired jazz from a quartet with Carolyn Goodwin and Franco Turrisi.

Most intriguing was a preview of a brand new opera by John O Brien based on Wilde's story, The Nightingale and the Rose with singers Camilla Griehsel and Mark Chambers. It is hoped that it will come to production in The Everyman in 2017.  I look forward to it.

Winterval Tree

Waterford City Centre has been transformed for a fourth year running into a Winter wonderland with all the seasonal trappings of jollity. There are carousels,  ferris wheels, swing boats and jingle bell clad shire horses. My favourite thing in Winterval is the singing tree, a tiered platform camouflaged with seasonal greenery.  On Sunday, Storm Desmond yielded briefly to allow a mild and pleasant afternoon when  the ladies and gentlemen of the excellent Barrack Street Concert Band under their director Mark Fitzgerald entertained us with a festive collection. The Band are a treasured institution who work harder than other ensemble to add a musical grace to many civic occasions. They are mighty. Have a listen to their closing number, Christmas Collage  in the audioboom

If you missed them, they will be repeating the programme, in Ballybricken next week. Check with for details.

Click on the arrow to hear the BSCB play Christmas Collage


Sturm and Drang: Messiah in Limerick

 'Yet once a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land

I made it through the wind and rain of Storm Desmond to join the orchestra of  Limerick Choral Union  for their biennial performance of Handel's Messiah - a truly glorious endeavour and one to savour and delight in with a sold out house at UCH. Soloists on this occasion were Jean Wallace, Martha Bredin , Patrick Hyland and John Molloy.

'I want seething and spitting and  none of your niceness' said Malcolm Green as he urged his choristers on to emphasise the elements of sturm and drang in a text. What a thrill to experience the force field that is bass John Molloy as he sang of darkness covering the earth, raging nations and hell raising trumpets. This voice has the heft at the bottom  to make you tremble

 He tells me he has three more Messiah engagements this season, one of which is in Halle, Saxony, the birthplace of Handel. On closer inspection, I note that,not only are there three Irish singers in the line up of the Happy Birthday Haendel -Messiah in Halle but also a familiar figure at the helm in Prionnsías O Duinn who has had this gig for the last nine years, I gather. This has to be at the classiest end of the Sing it Yourself Messiah's available. If you fancy it, you can sign up for the waiting list for the 2016 festival. (My report on a trip to Halle here)

Closer to home, you can sign up to Come and Sing Messiah favourite choruses at St Mary's Cathedral with Peter Barley on Sat 23rd April.

Related Posts Report LCU Messiah  2011

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Smitten by Appl at Hugh Lane Gallery

I haven't been to the Hugh Lane Gallery for years and I'd forgotton what an elegant venue, the domed chamber is. Usually host to Sunday mid-day events, it was packed to capacity last night for a terrific  recital by young German baritone, Benjamin Appl and English pianist, Gary Matthewman. Appl, a BBC Young Generation Artist and an ECHO Rising Star arrived garlanded with rave reviews and I can vouch that he is superb. Appl's got it all; gorgeous tone, vivid, animated chacterisation and handsome to boot. His pianist was the equally excellent British pianist, Gary Matthewman who we heard last in Waterford with soprano Máire Flavin. Together they made up a powerful duo that wowed the gallery audience who were reluctant to let them go even after a very subsatntial and wide ranging programme that included German lied, French melodie, operatic arias, an Irish air and a show tune.
It was exciting to hear work by Waterford based composer and associate of mine, Marion Ingoldsby. Marion's new song setting of Yeat's Never give all the Heart' was a high point of the evening. Like most in the audience last night, my heart was enthralled by this smashing song team.

There are a few more dates remaining . Tipperary tonight, Cork tomorrow , Dun Laoghaire on Sunday All details here Tickets on this Music Network tour are great value around €15 mark.

Audio of Sean Rocks super interview for RTE Arena here

Des O Driscoll's interview for Irish Examiner here

Venue Notes : I loved the subdued lighting which added to the sparkle.

Robert Schumann: Widmung (Rückert) Op. 25 no 1

Francis Poulenc: L’offrande (Anonymous) FP 42 no 6

Reynaldo Hahn: À Chloris (Viau)

Edvard Grieg: Lauf der Welt (Uhland) op 48 no 3

Felix Mendelssohn: Auf Flügeln des Gesanges (Heine) op 34 no 2

Franz Schubert: Liebesbotschaft (Rellstab) D957/1
Franz Schubert: Die Taubenpost (Seidl) D957/14

Benjamin Britten: The Salley Gardens (Irish Tune)

Marian Ingoldsby: Never give all the heart (Yeats) - New commission by Music Network

Francis Poulenc: La maîtresse volage (Anonymous) FP 42 no 1

Hugo Wolf: Hoffärtig seid ihr schönes Kind (Heyse)
Hugo Wolf: Wir haben beide lange Zeit geschwiegen (Heyse)

Franz Schubert: Der Tod und das Mädchen (Claudius) D531

Richard Strauss: Allerseelen (Gilm) op 10 no 8
Labours of the Heart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Fin ch’han dal vino (Don Giovanni’s aria from Don Giovanni KV 527)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Deh vieni alla finestra (Don Giovanni’s aria from Don Giovanni KV 527)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Madamina, il catalogo è questo (Leporello’s aria from Don Giovanni KV 527)

Richard Strauss: Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen Zagen (Harlekin’s aria from Ariadne auf Naxos op 60)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Papagena, Papagena! (Papageno’s aria from Die Zauberflöte KV 620)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Hai gia vinta la causa… Vedro mentr’io sospiro (Count Almaviva’s aria from Le Nozze di Figaro KV 492)
Benjamin Britten: Within this frail crucible of light (Tarquinius’ aria from The Rape of Lucretia op 37)

Sweet Romance
Richard Wagner: Wie Todesahnung… O du, mein holder Abendstern (Wolfram’s aria from Tannhäuser)
Frederick Loewe: On the street where you live (Freddy’s aria from My Fair Lady)

Encores Schubert Die Forelle Schumann Du Bist die eine Blume

Sunday, November 15, 2015

All Beethoven Night at SCOW

I am just in from a wonderful night of orchestral music in Waterford courtesy of Symphony Club of Waterford. The Hibernian Orchestra is a Dublin based ensemble  that straddles the amateur and professional sphere. It is a voluntary group but skill levels are high and most of these players could sit in comfortably to a  pro orchestra desk/

The all Beethoven programme featured a Leonora Overture, the relatively sunny second symphony and a mighty performance by Helena Wood of the Violin Concerto. I can't imagine hearing a better rendition of this work . Ms Wood's performance was full of vim and vigour but with plenty of sweetness and delicacy to make you swoon too. Leader of the NSO, she is superb and clearly a great asset to the Irish  scene. The orchestra under conductor John Finucane coped very well with the washy acoustic keeping everything short  and scaling back the pianissimos to  'barely there' to allow the soloist to shine. The Larghetto augmented by the counterpoint of  a natural sound effect of a whistling wind was sublime.

The team of volunteers at Symphony Club of Waterford under administrator Liam Daly  do a terrific job of bringing large scale ensembles to Waterford.  SCOW has just announced five attractive events for 2016 featuring some of  the very best  ensembles in Ireland. Details are posted below.  I was disappointed tonight not to see many fellow musicians in the audience. Waterford has umpteen choirs, several brass bands , several orchestras, music schools  and a third level degree music programme, none of whom were well represented this evening. Where was everybody? The standard of music making deserved a bigger audience cohort than the sub 100 gathered in Parnell Street for a remarkable musical evening, surely a highlight of the 2015 season.The evening started with silence as we remembered the many in Paris who just like us had set out to enjoy a night's entertainment in their city.  If the audience was meagre, they did not lack enthusiasm and I am happy to report that there was a standing ovation following the final triumphant bars of the concerto. Bravo tutti!

The Hibernian Orchestra repeat the programme on November 28th Christchurch Cathedral Dublin

SCOW 2016 Season 

Camerata Ireland with Barry Douglas (piano) Friday 12th The Large Room

Itish Chamber Orchestra Thursday 19th May St John's Church

RTE NSO July Date Venue tbc

Irish Symphonic Wind Orchestra Sunday 11th September  WIT Sports Hall

Irish Baoque Orchestra Friday 11th November St John's Church

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Violent String Attack at City Hall Waterford

The young Paris based quartet  knocked us out in The Large Room with the sound of their sixteen resonating strings combined. They were so young and so good with  such colour and energy in their playing.  Little wonder then that they are winning all round them at international competitions and are playing prestigious venues as recipients of the ECHO Rising Stars. Leslie Boulin Raulet with charm introduced the programme in  clearly enunciated tones and the ladies  as you would expect, looked trés chic . The quartet wore quite the most stylish high heels we have seen in the Large Room for some time. If you missed them tant pis! Have a listen to them in the video below.

Watch out for Liam Murphy's review in the Munster Express soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Waterford Festival of Architecture Preview

Travelling back to Waterford for holidays over the last two decades, I was struck by the quality of design in some new buildings in the city and the care with which  features in period buildings have been restored.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the confluence of elegance around the Mall/. The brand new Medieval Museum with it's velevety soft-scoop icecream front nestles cosily with John Roberts Georgian Cathedral and Bishop's Palace and the Victorian gem that is the Theatre Royal. I feel very proud that a local firm of architects produced the award winning design for the new Museum. It is fitting that Waterford City is the location for  an annual festival of architecture. The 2015 Waterford Festival of Architecture takes place next week. There are all sorts of walks, talks, exhibitions and related events. Local treasure-historian Julian Walton gives several talks in a variety of locations. There is an opportunity to peer beyond the hall door of buildings not usually open to the public. The lovely new gardens created in a Japanese spirit dedicated to Lafacadio Hearn are included in the itinerary.

Visit on October 15th and you can hear an excellent evening of string quartets from the visiting Quatuor Zaide  in The Large Room, a  gracious assembly hall at  City Hall, a venue as fine as any temple of chamber music in Europe.

Photo John Power 
More on the Waterford Festival of Architecture on their website- an extract here.

'The festival is over 14 years old and is still going strong, thanks to the endeavours of a very hardworking committee and support from our many sponsors and friends including ID2015 Waterford City & County Council, Fumbally Exchange, Waterford Institute of Technology, and WLR FM.

This year the festival will celebrate the life of Waterford through the built environment and encourage everyone to engage with the city including the metropolitan areas of Dunmore East and Tramore, on a more intimate level, with lectures, events, tours and walks.

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Origins’ and we will be digging deep into our local archaeology and historic buildings as well as showcasing new and developing projects to help create appreciation and understanding for both how we started and where we are going.

Speakers on Friday afternoon and evening will include The Waterford Metropolitan Mayor Eamon Quinlan, who will open the festival, including Waterford born, internationally renowned architect Professor Michelle Howard, James Howley , conservation architect, and celebrated travel writer and Waterford native, Dervla Murphy. For Additional information on festival events'

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tonos on Tour

Tonos are a very fine duo specialising in early music comprising soprano Roisin O Grady and baroque guitarist Eamonn Sweeney. They have just launched a new CD and are on a nationwide tour. I heard  them yesterday at Castalia Hall Co Kilkenny in  a recital of great charm and grace. I commend them to you.

Remaining Tour dates are here