TWO concerts from Kilkenny Arts Week stand out Robert Houlihan's unerring unfolding (with his Savaria Symphony Orchestra from Hungary) of Bartok's uniquely riveting symphonic drama, Bluebeard's Castle, and Steven Isserlis's performance of three of Bach's cello suites, delivered as a sort of interior monologue, reflective, meditative, musing, yet missing nothing in intensity.

Of ongoing concern is the musical inertia in self generated promotional activity by the National Concert Hall, outside of "celebrity" events, largely populist, summer, lunchtime concerts and educational projects. In this, the year of its largest subvention from public funds, the NCH saw fit to offer full evening recitals to just two Irish performers pianist Barry Douglas and violinist Catherine Leonard (in a "debut" recital). Shameful!