Review: Wild, hectic, playful and effervescent
Classical: Irish Chamber Orchestra, Mansion House
Prior to launching a three-year residency at the Heidelberg Spring Festival, the Irish Chamber Orchestra presents some of its travelling music at the refurbished Round Room of Dublin's Mansion House.
The mainly Mendelssohn programme has the ubiquitous Jörg Widmann as conductor, clarinet soloist and composer and the evening begins with the precocious Mendelssohn's teenage 12th String Symphony.
A solemn introduction leads into a sprightly fugue with Maestro Widmann ensuring Mendelssohn's intricate patterns are lucidly articulate.
There is a welcome momentum in the Andante while the fiery finale is the ready template for Puck's magical mischief in the composer's Midsummer Night's Dream music.
Russian-born, Igor Levit is the virtuoso soloist in Mendelssohn's 2nd Piano Concerto. Rippling phrases are refreshingly fluid in the opening Allegro with Levit's unassailable technique matched by his musical integrity.
With lyrical expression, the Adagio emerges as a 'song without words' while Levit combines feathery lightness with dramatic punch in the ebullient finale. At one with Widmann's direction, ICO's support is elegant and trenchant.
Widmann's arrangement of the Andante from Mendelssohn's Clarinet Sonata, with added strings, harp and celesta (Levit again), is a shade excessive but it allows him to spin his own instrument's melodic lines with inherent feeling for the music's aria-like continuum.
The concert also revives Weber's uneven 2nd Symphony and with strings pungent and energetic, ICO's woodwind is playful and effervescent.
In between these classical charms, Widmann's own Hunting Quartet is wild, hectic and brilliantly scored. Charged with extravagant string demands, the hunter becomes the hunted and the bizarre piece ends with the literally howling cellist being flayed by the bows of her alleged companions.
Comic but undoubtedly cruel.