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Monday 25 September 2017

Review: Pieter Wispelwey / RTE NSO

The National Concert Hall

Pat O'Kelly

PROGRAMMING RTE National Symphony Orchestra events at the National Concert Hall is undergoing a process of change, with some concerts being condensed to cater for late-night recitals, occasionally incorporating the main evening's soloist.

This week is a case in point as Dutch virtuoso cellist Pieter Wispelwey plays two Haydn Concertos before his solo performance of Bach's 2nd Cello Suite.

Wispelwey directs the Concertos from a centrally positioned platform while the orchestra, reduced to chamber proportions, identifies with Haydn's own forces at the Esterhazy Court, where he spent much of his working life.

The RTE musicians' response to the flick of Wispelwey's bow is both vigorous and stylish with particularly expansive string tone.

Using an 18th Century instrument and preferring gut strings, Wispelwey's own bowing has a robust quality in a wealth of vibrant instrumental colour.

But his playing also has remarkable restraint as infinite delicacy enhances the C major Concerto's Adagio.

The earlier Moderato has an element of swagger while the later, exceptionally fast, Allegro molto has an impish playfulness.

The D major Concerto further demonstrates Wispelwey's extensive breadth of dynamic range as he produces burnished mellowness and full-bodied richness.

Before the Concertos, and under the watchful eye of clarinettist John Finucane, a dozen of the orchestra's members offer the delightful soufflé of Dvorak's 'Wind Serenade' with the music gliding from rustic romp to sophisticated elegance.

After the Concertos, Wispelwey brings wonderful clarity to Bach's D minor Suite. Dancing fingers may activate the final Gigue but the central Sarabande processes with dignified solemnity.

Irish Independent

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