National Concert Hall, Dublin

National Concert Hall, Dublin

The first concert presented by the Irish Composers’ Collective this year marked a first collaboration with Jane O’Leary’s new music ensemble, Concorde.

The programme performed in the National Concert Hall’s Kevin Barry Room last Monday included two solos, both by Hugh Boyle. Phrase for solo flute (Madeleine Staunton) began with the aeolian harp-like sound of blown air and continued in a fragmented manner that somehow managed also to sound connected.

Death for Only One for clarinet (Paul Roe), inspired by a Jack B Yeats painting, was altogether more conventional in its progress.


The first of the evening's quintets with Concorde's full line-up of flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, was Music for Quintetby Donal McErlaine, a piece that was as bald in its contrasts of roughness and calm as in its title.

Piaras Hoban's Seam-sew, inspired by an Alberto Giacometti lithograph of his Man Walkingsculpture seen surrounded by the clutter of his studio, sought overtly for a quality the composer describes as rough-hewn, exemplified by the extremes of screeching clarinet and loose, super-low cello.

Donal Rafferty's quintet Distraction was a piece that repeatedly seemed to reshape itself in ways that seemed about to coalesce into something familiar, only to drift away from it again. Glen Austin's Rain Dance(a quartet, leaving out the flute, which, like the quintets, was conducted by Emma O'Halloran) began as an evocation of aridity and took a long time to get near the kind of movement its title seemed to suggest.

Emma Halloran’s Verlaine-inspired trio, A Chosen Landscape, was a repetitive, brooding piece, with aspects of masquerade that saw instruments hiding within and emerging from each other’s sounds. Its surprise was the delivery of a sudden, unexpected climax.

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan is a music critic and Irish Times contributor