The original theme lacked grandeur, but such portmanteaus can be a source of creativity

George Enescu could play whole operas from memory and almost everything by Bach

The intriguing role of memory in musical performance has been a hot topic lately

So complete was the rift that opened up, that Bakels (above) has had to wait more than two decades before conducting in Dublin again

An NCH concert hinted at what might have been had the plans of the 1990s not unravelled

Mozart: Piano Sonatas Vol 3 Christian BlackshawWigmore Hall Live WHLive 0076/2 (2 CDs)4

The Borodin Quartet: their playing was extraordinarily contained, as if any dynamic level could be suggested or conjured without need for major change

The festival needs its own dedicated venue, and its director’s pursuit of one might be about to bear fruit

Dvorak: New World Symphony; Varèse: AmériquesSeattle Symphony/Ludovic MorlotSeattle Symphony Media SSM 10065

Alina Ibragimova: a gutsy player who dives into the music, body and soul. Photograph: Sussie Ahlburg

In Bantry, musical depth was lost in the Cremona Quartet’s approach, whereas Alina Ibragimova did Bach justice

Shostakovich: Symphony No 9; Violin Concerto No 1Leonidas Kavakos (violin), Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery GergievMariinsky MAR 05243 (...)

The Borodin Quartet will play at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival

The Russian quartet have been performing in various incarnations for 70 years, which is no mean feat: it isn’t easy to find new (...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

A heavily redacted report on RTÉ’s orchestras gives the lie to the Government’s claims about transparency

Tenor Robin Tritschler was in exemplary form in the NCH John Field Room on Sunday, where his programme embraced Yeats settings with the Vanbrugh String Quartet

Yeats might well have appreciated the wordiness of William Brooks’s Everlasting Voices, which revisits the poet’s ideals of ‘chaun(...)

Tara Erraught: The law of unintended consequences made her, for a while, ‘the most famous mezzo on Earth’. Photograph: Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images

Having silenced a clutch of male critics, Erraught showed she has the X factor on stage at the NCH

John Cage was happy to write in a letter of recommendation that Christian Wolff (above) ‘is not known as a student of mine for the reason that I learned more from him than he from me’

The composer Christian Wolff, of the New York School, was central to a memorable night in Louth

‘It has been a particularly gruelling competition, with a higher proportion of players striving to make an impression through sheer volume than I remember from any previous year.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The technical standard at this year’s competition has been high, but other shortcomings have become apparent

‘This year was marked by lots of flaws, the most annoying being a frequent insistence on unnecessary loudness.’ Photograph: Jason Clarke Photography

In the opening round, 63 young players were whittled down to 24. My verdict often diverged from the jury’s

Kevin Neville, Monica Marin, Luciano Botelho (the Duke), Sarah Ryan and Doreen Curran in Opera Theatre Company’s Rigoletto

Marina Carr’s new translation puts Rigoletto in the ring: can the formidable back room team whip it into shape for a knockout?

Brahms & SchumannAnn Murray (mezzo soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)Linn Records CKD 4434

‘Kirkos’s playing was rather rough- edged, the ensemble not yet bedded in, the colours not quite true.’ Photograph: Tara Thomas

Classical music round-up: The young ensemble played Messiaen’s dark music – which he composed as a POW – in near-darkness

John O’Conor’s playing had something of the air of a grand master about it, the big picture always well-understood

Classical Music round-up: Recitals by John O’Conor, Marino Formenti and Philip Glass ranged from the masterful to the radical

Conductor Sakari Oramo: ‘We [Finns] hate people who can’t understand Sibelius’s music, like most of the German people. We think Sibelius is better than Richard Strauss and Wagner put together’

What better excuse for a symphonic festival than the 150th anniversaries of two Scandinavian composers?

Celine Byrne (centre) ‘is not what you would call a sympathetic Butterfly’

A few revivalist tweaks can’t hide the age of the Moscow State’s Opera’s tired Butterfly

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sang with a kind of effortless aplomb, as if singing of beauty and precision were something that could just be made to happen

The orchestra’s appearance at the NCH kept things contemporary, unorthodox and sensual

Opera of a different kind featured on Dublin’s streets over the weekend in Things We Throw Away (above). A public street with pedestrians passing around and sometimes through the performing space is not exactly an easy spot for pop-up opera. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Classical Music: The ensemble is to give a series of concerts in the dark; elsewhere, street opera proves a slippery business

Mezzo soprano Sharon Carty: firm in tone, expressively to the point, and with an almost instrumental sureness of delivery

Holy Week used to be quiet in the musical calendar, but no more. This year RTÉ’s music division stepped up with Bach’s St Matthew (...)

‘Left Behind’ is a set of songs marking the Rising through poems by Simon O’Connor (above), which imagine 1916 and its fallout through the experiences of the wives of the rebel leaders. Photograph: Eric Luke

RTÉ tends to give new Irish music just one airing in concert, so its plans to celebrate the past century of Irish music is a very (...)

Schumann: Violin Concerto; Piano Trio No 3Isabelle Faust (violin), Freiburger Barockorchester/Pablo Heras-Casado, Jean-Guihen Quey(...)

‘It’s hard to think of anyone better-equipped than Niall Doyle [above] to provide the advocacy that music and opera need in these straitened times.’ Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Doyle comes to the job as someone who knows how bruising the council can be to clients

Mozart: String Quartet in D minor K421; Mendelssohn: Quartet in A minor Op 13Chiaroscuro QuartetAparté AP 0924

New breed: Simon Rattle works as readily with period-instrument players as with symphony orchestras. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/EPA

The Royal Irish Academy of Music’s collaborative concert was strong on Irish writers but weak on our composers

David Lang: the line-up of his festival featured composers with an average age of 54 and a range of works with an average year of composition around 2000

Why this year’s festival turned to the US for a curator is hard to fathom

Mozart: Serenade in E flat K375; Divertimentos K240, K252, K253, K270

John Wilson, principal conductor of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, during rehearsals at the National Concert Hall. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The principal conductor of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra fell in love with music in his high chair. He taught himself piano at a young(...)

Keith Pascoe: a violinist who comes at his subject at times from an almost proprietorial perspective

A talk by Keith Pascoe in the NCH Insights series focused on the changing relationship between the two instruments

John Buckley is one of the most fastidious craftsmen, and the orchestra gives him the greatest palette

The composer compiles a classic Horizons programme at the NCH; and NI Opera bares all, with mixed results

Jennifer Walshe: seems to feel like a musical foundling who arrived in the world with enthusiasms that don’t fit with the culture around her. Photograph: Eugene Langan, copyright Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland

What, you haven’t heard of Zaftig Giolla or the Guinness Dadaists? Let Jennifer Walshe enlighten you

Benjamin Grosvenor: redrew balances at will and shifted material into different octaves as he saw fit, not to emulate effects that are possible on a harpsichord but rather to make absolutely the best pianistic effect

The pianist, just 22, delivers an unconventional programme with awe-inspiring confidence

‘Bruch never managed to reconcile himself with the direction taken by Wagner and Liszt, let alone those who built on their achievements.’ Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The German composer clung to the same style throughout his career – do any modern counterparts keep the faith?

Friday’s programme showed that, under its current chorus master, Mark Hindley (above), standards at the RTÉ Philharmonic are high

The choir has to compete with the Fleischmann, but it’s living up to the vision behind its foundation

‘Back in the 1990s I told Judith Woodworth [above], then the director of the NCH, that music itself was way down the agenda in the hall’s own promotional activities. Her response was unexpected.’ Photograph: Frank Miller

The NCH needs to give greater prominence to the music in its promotion and RTÉ needs to be braver about new music

Taracea: Seldom Sene

Richard Goode at the KBC Great Music in Irish Houses festival

‘Of all the arts centres and theatres outside of Dublin where I’ve heard OTC productions, the Solstice [above] in Navan is in a league of its own.’ Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

At four recent performances given in spaces not designed for music, the contrasting fortunes were profound

Belfast conductor Courtney Lewis stands out as someone who is prepared to go that extra mile in shaping the nuance and colour of the orchestra’s playing. Photograph: Travis Anderson

Getting the best out of an orchestra is a challenge, but the young Belfast conductor proves he can handle it with performances of (...)

One of Europe’s finest outdoor opera companies comes indoors for a brief tour in Dublin with ‘La traviata’

Irina Dubrovskaya’s intriguing rhythmic liquidity communicates a dreamlike quality - he is fully in the world, but not quite of it.
Review: La traviata

Glyndebourne returns with a terrific production of Verdi’s classic

The Vanbrughs, whose final years at RTÉ were marked by patchy publicity and promotion, may well feel that they have had a narrow escape

ConTempo Quartet, on the other hand, were to take over as RTÉ’s string quartet in Cork in April, but things have been rather muted(...)

Engagement and the breaking down of conventional barriers is clearly high on ConTempo’s agenda

Programmes are invaluable for concert-goers, and a little discussion from performers rarely does any harm

The Elixir of Love is indicative of the scale of production the OTC would liketo do more of

OTC says it was ‘the victim of political decisions’ but it’s now back on the road with bigger ambitions than ever

The Emerson Quartet are no strangers to the challenges and possibilities of the recording studio, and they have nine Grammy awards to prove it

The Emerson Quartet offer a reminder of the advantages of the live performance over the recording

Jennifer Davis, left, and Anna Devin have both developed the kind of healthy, strong delivery that singers need to project in larger halls and opera houses

If only Ireland had such a thing as a national opera company to utilise the abilities of Anna Devin and Jennifer Davis

Enrico Pace is a class act, a man who understands what a vast range of sonorities a piano can be coaxed into yielding. Photograph: Marco Borggreve

The skill of the players is undermined by the concert’s unconventional structure

The late impresario John Ruddock at his home in Dalkey. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Whether promoting at home or recruiting abroad, John Ruddock’s effect on Irish music was profound

Quirijin de Lang and Jamie Rock. Photograph: Sean O’Riordan

Kevin Puts’s opera gets an impassioned performance in its European premiere

‘Juan Diego Flórez’s voice has a pleasing immediacy. His tone is forward and highly focused. The delivery is stylish and musically true’

The downside to seeing the tenor’s NCH appearance was that I missed an apparently great Wexford production

 Filippo Fontana in Don Bucefalo. Photograph: Clive Barda/ArenaPAL

Too much commotion and too many gags sometimes smother the froth of the music

Na’ama Goldman and Igor Golovatenko. Photograph: Eric Luke

A new production that is inert and lacklustre

The extra funding announced for the arts in the Budget is in fact earmarked for the Easter Rising commemorations

None of the Budget’s so-called feelgood factor reached the arts, which received no boost in funding

Silent Night: the quick scene changes of the prologue, which were handled by the rotation of a turntable in Cincinnati, will be solved at Wexford with lighting

The Wexford-bound Silent Night explores the horror of war through the prism of the unofficial Christmas Eve truce of 1914. Its com(...)

‘What does Heather Humphreys really think about the boards of cultural institutions and the arts in general? I have no idea.’ Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

In her first few months in the job, it’s hard to know what Heather Humphreys thinks about the boards of cultural institutions and (...)

Maria Callas ‘led a life that fostered sensationalist coverage’. Photograph: Ben Martin/The Life Images Collection/Getty Images

‘La Divina’, one of the greatest singers of her time, returns in a new version of her studio recordings

Gábor Takács-Nagy: his Haydn is anything but routine

Irish Chamber Orchestra’s Gábor Takács-Nagy brings a fresh and fun approach to the composer’s symphonies

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