Tuesday 20 February 2018

Review: Musical stars put Dublin on the map

Classical: KBC Great Music in Irish Houses, various venues

Colin Currie group
Colin Currie group

Pat O'Kelly

Beginning, strikingly, with Colin Currie's percussion group (pictured) in music by minimalist Steve Reich at TCD, this festival covers considerable ground.

Virtuoso stuff with imperceptible changes of emphasis, Reich's Sextet colourfully intermingles keyboards, marimbas and vibes. The bell-like Mallet Quartet has its slower sections moderately tuneful but Reich's recent Quartet for pianos and marimbas has more interesting harmonious clang.

Baiba and Lauma Skride, the Latvian violin and piano sister duo, take a Nordic tour at the Royal College of Physicians. Honouring Nielsen's 150th anniversary, they elicit the gravitas from his individualistic 2nd Violin Sonata and are equally impassioned, but also wonderfully light-hearted, in Grieg's 2nd Sonata. The romantic phrases of Stenhammar's Sonata gleam in the best possible light.

Mendelssohn's unusually serious F minor Quartet portrays angst and anger and, at the Botanic Gardens, the US Escher Quartet offers potent drama in its emotional extremes. With exceptional convection and panache, Beethoven's Op 18/5 and Ravel's only Quartet come alive with abandon.

Intense and defiant, Berlin's Armida Quartet is mildly aggressive in Beethoven Op 95 and Shostakovich 10. The intimate acoustic of Belvedere House engulfs the audience in Armida's unbridled pursuits.

Period instrument Ensemble Marsyas brings Handel's cantata Apollo e Dafne to Castletown. Under harpsichordist Peter Whelan, bass Callum Thorpe overstates his amorous designs against the determined rebuttals of Mhairi Lawson's chaste Dafne. Marsyas offers magnetic support with strings and woodwind lithe yet solid.

Irish Independent

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