Pianist Alfred Brendel gives the audience the unexpected pleasure of performing most of the musical examples himself

Alfred Brendel plays along to probing essay: and who was being guyed in Crash Assembly piece?

SHOSTAKOVICH: SYMPHONY NO 1 ETCOrchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Gustavo GimenoPentatone PTC 5186 6223

Finnegan Downie Dear: The young English conductor’s lunchtime programme takes the RTÉ Concert Orchestra through three different views of the Orient.

This week’s best classical concerts

 Liam Byrne  in Talbot’s Tower, Kilkenny

Peter Whelan is at the start of a journey to uncover a neglected part of our musical legacy

Christian Blackshaw: performing Schubert’s piano sonatas at Kilkenny Arts Festival

Schubert: Dreaming the Sublime, Giulio Cesare, and Rediscovering Irish State Musick

Iestyn Davies: “Somebody sitting beside me said, ‘That sounds all right. You should do it more often.’ ” Photograph: Marco Borggreve

After Iestyn Davies’s voice broke, finding his falsetto ‘accessed something inside of me’

John Harris: arriving into a situation in which future festival themes and commissions are already in train

The experience of the festival has been like that of a child of warring parents

Sharon Carty as Amy in The Second Violinist which had its  world premiere on July 27th as part of the 40th Galway International Arts Festival. Photograph: Patrick Redmond

Donnacha Dennehy’s The Second Violinist, with a libretto by Enda Walsh, takes the phone in opera fully into the 21st century

Veronica Dunne: Ireland’s most influential singing teacher. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Russian fare and a 90th birthday celebration for Veronica Dunne

Frank McNamara  was genial, resolute and even-handed as a task-master – and encouraging as a teacher. Photograph: Jason Clarke

The pianist shows students how to handle the pressure of improvisation

Donnacha Dennehy’s The Second Violinist, his second opera with writer and director Enda Walsh, premieres at the Galway Arts Festival

Dublin International Piano Festival, opera at the Galway Arts Festival and 37th Chamber Music Festival in Castletownshend

German organist Ansgar Wallenhorst is such a fan that he included no less than three improvisations in his recital at St Michael’s Church, Dún Laoghaire, on Sunday

Many great composers were also great improvisers, Mozart, Beethoven and Bruckner among them

Mezzo soprano Tara Erraught, with the   RTÉ NSO/Gavin Maloney, at the NCH, Dublin, on Friday

Irish mezzo soprano Tara Erraught comes to the National Concert Hall

German-Korean violinist Viviane Hagner

West Cork Chamber Music Festival director Francis Humphreys struck gold this year bringing together violinist Viviane Hagner, cell(...)

Karen Ní Bhroin, who will make her debut with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday.

Giya Kancheli miniatures get an airing while Karen Ní Bhroin makes her RTÉ NSO debut

ORA/Suzi Digby Many are the WondersHarmonia Mundi HMM 905284 4

English pianist Julius Drake: expressive vehemence

Composer Hanns Eisler wrote the `Hollywood Songbook' while in enforced exile from Germany

 Fergus Sheil speaking after picking up the best opera award at this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, for The Barber of Seville by Wide Open Opera. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Opera Theatre Company and Wide Open Opera will merge to form new entity

Cellist Norah O’Leary from Ensemble Dagda with students from St Brendan’s NS Bantry at the launch of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Bantry, Co Cork. Photograph: Darragh Kane

Ahead of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, five string players discuss their work

Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino gives the impression of re-drawing time. Photograph: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Despite denouncing Stockhausen as a charlatan, Brian Boydell was no traditionalist. And Salvatore Sciarrino at Silenzio further ce(...)

BEL CANTO PAGANINIRachel Barton Pine (violin)Avie AV 2374 (2 CDs)4

Wide Open Opera and Landmark Productions have won the€150,000 Fedora General Prize for Opera for their production of ‘The Second Violinist’. Photograph: Hugh O’Conor

Smart money still on the Wide Open Opera/Opera Theatre Company bid to become the council’s new major opera supplier

Nathalie Stutzmann, RTÉ NSO’s principal guest conductor, conducts five concerts in the 2017-2018 season. Photograph: Simon Fowler

Orchestra celebrates 70th anniversary with a wide-ranging concert programme

When it came to concerts, the late conductor Neville Marriner put the soloist as the number one consideration, then the repertoire, then the conductor and then the orchestra

Striking the right balance between all the factors at play in a concert, and their effect on audience numbers, is an artform in it(...)

Chamber Choir Ireland

From his earliest days in a rock band to his years in music college, David Fennessy realised he would be composing music rather th(...)

Handel’s Radamisto: The music-making, with David Brophy conducting the Irish Chamber Orchestra, was strong, sturdy but also a little stiff

Russian composers shine at NCH; Tenebrae revisit Orthodox choral music

Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys: has plenty of options when it comes to funding Aosdána. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Opinion: Aosdána is part of a sticking-plaster remedy that masks shortcomings in support

Crash Ensemble, who performed as part of the Drogheda Arts Festival.

Three festivals showcased electronic works that deserve to be heard by a wider audience

Film-maker George Morrison with artist Imogen Stuart, left, and film producer Lelia Doolan at the Arts Council of Ireland where he was bestowed the honour of Saoi in Aosdana by President Michael D Higgins. Morrison’s films include Mise Éire and Saoirse. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Water charges refunds would pay the total annual cost of Aosdána for more than 30 years. So why is the Arts Council attacking it

Violin virtuoso Anton Steck finds dynamic connections between the two composers

Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla: the conductor appears with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on August 31st. Photograph: Lawrence K Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty

Only one woman composer features so far in the National Concert Hall’s International Concert Series for 2017-18

Rarely-heard music: Pianist Úna Hunt and friends resurrected forgotten music  under the title ‘Recollections of Ireland’

Recollections of Ireland at NCH focused on rarely-heard music composed before 1917

Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys: could have drawn up a gender-equality policy that would apply to any organisation or individual receiving funding from her department. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Minister Heather Humphreys is asking cultural institutions to step up to the plate on gender

Marc-André Hamelin: the most difficult thing about piano playing is “the ability to be able to hear yourself during performance the same way the public is hearing you. And that’s a very tall order.”  Photograph: Sim Cannetty-Clarke

Pianos are unforgiving when played in duos but that did not deter Hamelin and Andsnes

Fearghal Curtis, Eamonn Mulhall and  Andrew Gavin in Opera Theatre Company’s production of  Handel’s Acis and Galatea.

‘Acis and Galatea’ has had its action propped up in a very Irish setting

Kirkos Ensemble continues to stretch musical boundaries in new concert series

 National Concert Hall honour a kind of official seal on the perception of Finghin Collins as the leading Irish musician of his generation. Photograph: Frances Marshall

NCH honours pianist by presenting him in solo recital as part of international series

Gerald Barry: His “treatment somehow intensifies, if that is imaginable, the topsy-turviness of Lewis Carroll’s imagination”. Photograph: Alan Betson

Last weekend’s New Music festival finally delivered on its celebratory promise

Wide Open Opera’s production of “The Barber of Seville”. Will Opera Theatre Company, Lyric Opera and Wexford Festival Opera also throw their hats into the ring?

Arts Council is looking for applicants to provide ‘main-scale’ opera from 2018, as Opera Ireland finally gets something of a repla(...)

USTVOLSKAYA, SILVESTROV, KANCHELI: WORKS FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRaElisaveta Blumina (piano), Stuttgart CO/Thomas Sanderling ****Gran(...)

Nikolay Khozyainov: his playing was free of grandstanding, though the glitter of the rapid-fire finale was as bright as you could have wished.

Dublin International Piano Competition winner 2012 Nikolay Khozyainov on form

Gerald Barry:  his  piece Humiliated and Insulted is inspired by a Dostoyevsky novel. Photograph: Alan Betson

Of all new music, large-scale works with words travel least freely internationally

Yuri Temirkanov with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic at the NCH: “The playing is as pliable as you could wish for”

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra’s studied take on Mendelssohn and Brahms

Conductor Cristian Macelaru: a performance full of hustle, bustle and excitement

Cristian Macelaru’s in-your-face style frees up the RTÉ NSO, perhaps too much so

SAINT-SAËNS: CELLO CONCERTO NO 1; SONATAS NOS 2 & 3Emmanuelle Bertrand (cello), Luzerner Sinfonieorchester/James Gaffigan, Pascal (...)

Wolfgang Rihm: shares a characteristic with Mozart

The German composer is a master of quite contradictory styles and his output runs to more than 400 works

SEA TO THE WESTElizabeth Hilliard (soprano) ****Métier MSV 28551

French conductor Nathalie Stutzmann, newly announced principal guest conductor of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, rehearses with the orchestra at the National Concert Hall. Photograph: Maxwell Photography

The NSO’s new principal guest conductor hit it off again with orchestra and audience

Benjamin Hulett: soloist sounded at all times as if he owned the music.

RTÉ Philharmonic Choir under Mark Hindley deliver a standout performance

Isabelle O’Connell: a hasty late edition to Composing the Island

When it comes to ‘gender mainstreaming’, we can learn something from Vienna city hall

The RTÉ Concert Orchestra on the opening night of the Composing the Island at the National Concert Hall. RTÉ and the National Concert Hall, sponsored by Bord na Mona, celebrated 100 years of music written from 1916-2016, as part of the Ireland 2016 centenary programme. Photograph: Mark Stedman

Culture review 2016: The funding of the Taoiseach’s promised Creative Ireland venture remains to be seen

 John Beckett (left): He had his vision and his only need was to bend everyone he was working with to his will.

Plus: a biography of Samuel Beckett’s musical cousin John Beckett

Enda Kenny, Heather Humphreys and Paschal Donohoe at the Creative Ireland launch. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

If these ambitions are realised, arts will receive their greatest leap in funding since the foundation of the State

Georgy  Isaakyan  shifted the setting of Puccini’s La bohème to Paris in the late 1940s

Russian Puccini, refined Haydn and raw saxophone

ENCORES AFTER BEETHOVENAndrás Schiff (piano) ****ECM New Series 481 4474

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra: “Post-recession attrition has been used to reduce the playing strength of the orchestra to a level of 82”

Recent changes in the national broadcaster have serious implications for music groups

John O’Kane when he was art programme director at the Arts Council, circa 2002

Executive Director of RTÉ’s Orchestras, Quartet and Choirs moves to new role

The Vanbrugh Quartet: they will receive the National Concert Hall Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala concert on Sunday

The Vanbrugh Quartet discuss the highs and lows and the state of classical music in Ireland after 30 years of music making

President Michael D Higgins, Minister for the Arts Heather Humphreys and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Arts community will need to shout these words if they want to make a difference

A I RFrode Haltli (accordion), Trondheim Soloists, Arditti Quartet ****ECM New Series 481 2802

John O’Conor and Veronica McSwiney at the NCH

Unusual musical combinations and an extreme reaction

When will opera be blessed with a coherent strategy? At the opera house in Wexford. Photograph: David Sleator / The Irish Times

The upside-down provision of opera in Ireland neglects works people want to hear most

Gaetano Donizetti’s complicated and gory – and long-overlooked – work gets a fascinating outing

Mezzo soprano Carolyn Sprule. Photograph: Clive Barda

Samuel Barber’s opera was calculated not to offend a 1950s audience fearful of genuinely modern music

Herculanum at Wexford Festival Opera. Photograph: Clive Barda/ArenaPAL

Félicien David’s opera takes the explosion of Mt Vesuvius as its setting, but this production never manages to ignite

The  unexpected golden age of Irish opera includes  Landmark Production and Wide Open Opera’s The Last Hotel,  a new opera by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh featuring Katherine Manley and Claudia Boyle. Photograph: Patrick Redmond

Arts Council should use increased funding announced in the budget to address the needs of opera lovers and the professional opera (...)

RAMEAU: HIPPOLYTE ET ARICIE SUITE; BERLIOZ: SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUESwedish Radio SO/Daniel Harding ****Harmonia Mundi HMC 902244

Soprano Rachel Kelly with Una Hunt on piano for Songs of Erin at the National Concert Hall as part of Composing the Island

The event highlighting a neglected repertoire from Irish composers should happen every year

David Kempster as Don Giovanni in   in a new translation of  Mozart’s opera  by Roddy Doyle and the Opera Theatre Company, as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2016

Dublin Theatre Festival: Opera Theatre Company shifts the action from 16th-century Spain to Dublin now, and the audience engagemen(...)

Violinist Elaine Clarke with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and Gavin Maloney, conductor

Biggest ever celebration of Irish composers ends at the National Concert Hall

The concert ended with Gerald Barry’s From the Intelligence Park (1986), a collage-like piece, sometimes calmly mono-linear, sometimes fiercely aggressive

The celebration of 100 years of Irish composition hits mid-century, revealing a dark age for orchestral music

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