All-Irish programme sonorous, yet delicate
Soliloquy and March - Vincent Kennedy
Soundshock - Eibhlis Farrell
Music for Wind and Brass - Maconchy
Alembic - Raymond Deane
March Bizarre - Victory
Where the Wind Blows - John Buckley
Wexford Rhapsody - Kelly
Finnegan's Wake - Potter
Cead Mile Failte - Johnny TateThe Irish Youth Wind Ensemble's concert on Tuesday night at the National Concert Hall was conducted by James Cavanagh and Fred O'Callaghan. In an all-Irish programme, seven of the nine items were original compositions for wind band, and four were written since the ensemble was founded in 1985.
Throughout this ambitious and effective programme, one always knew what each piece was about. Some of the best playing came in Elizabeth Maconchy's Music for Wind and Brass (1966), which was scored for smaller forces than the other pieces and required a lot of solo work. Another piece which called for some delicacy of playing was Raymond Deane's Alembic (1992). The placing of the off-stage trumpets in the side balcony, where they projected towards the stage rather than the audience, weakened the intended effect; but the music's sense of progressive elaboration came across clearly. So did the massive sonorities and dynamic contrasts of Eibhlis Farrell's Soundshock (1992), and the mix of complexity and directness in John Buckley's Where the Wind Blows (commissioned by the ensemble in 1989).
A recurring technical limitation in the concert was in getting a clean attack at low volume. Nevertheless, the range and control of volume - often a problem in wind ensembles - was impressive.
The pieces in more traditional wind-band style were generally well-played, including Vincent Kennedy's retro-style evocation Soliloquy and March (1997), and Johnny Tate's arrangement of Irish airs, Cead Mile Failte. But the honours for best performance went to Victory's March Bizarre and Potter's accomplished arrangement of the song Finnegan's Wake.