Absorbing start to NSO summer season

 

Prometheus Overture - Beethoven

Piano Concerto No 1 - Mendelssohn

Transylvanian Dances - Bartok

Concert Waltz No 2 - Glazunov

Last Tuesday at the National Concert Hall the RTE Concert Orchestra began its contribution to the annual summer series of lunchtime concerts. Conductor Robert Houlihan had a well-defined view of each piece, and this helped to produce playing which was always absorbing, even when detail was not as precise as it could have been.

There was, for example, some fuzziness during some of the joins between sections in Glazunov's Concert Waltz No. 2, while in Bartok's Transylvanian Dances - the composer's orchestral version of the Sonatina for Piano - important string parts were sometimes swamped by the dense wind writing.

Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 saw the best playing I have heard from pianist Dearbhla Collins. I was not convinced by her fine-toned, lingering approach to the solo between the first two movements, for it made too much of what is a link, rather than an event in its own right.

But, on the whole, her playing moved easily and sensitively between heroic individuality and light-toned deftness - just right for this epitome of confident early Romanticism.

She was helped by a sensitive and alert contribution from the RTECO and Robert Houlihan.

This programme's length was ideal for a lunchtime concert. At 45 minutes, it let people get back to work without embarrassment and made a welcome change from the longer programmes - sometimes over an hour - which have predominated in the series during this and previous years.