Hayes, Cahill, ICO/Hunka


RDS, Dublin

Moore/Rice – The Last Rose of Summer. Grieg – Holberg Suite. Dave Flynn – An Irish Farrago (from O’Carolan to Ó Riada). Ginastera – Concerto for strings. Dave Flynn – Music for the Departed.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra is opening its new season with a touring programme called Classical Ceol! The classical elements are Grieg’s HolbergSuite and Ginastera’s Concerto for strings, the ceol comes from two pieces by Dave Flynn, both fronted by the dynamic traditional fiddle and guitar duo of Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill.

The programme began with Thomas Moore’s The Last Rose of Summer, with ICO violinist Cliodhna Ryan reading the poem over a schmaltzy fantasia on the tune arranged by her ICO colleague Kenneth Rice.

The orchestra, directed from the violin by leader Katherine Hunka, despatched the Grieg with tuneful aplomb, and were in fine form for the extreme demands of Ginastera’s Concerto for strings, a work the Argentinian composer created in 1965 out of his Second String Quartet of 1958, and which has challenges that give even the best of players a thorough workout. The ICO gave it a performance of typically energetic chutzpah.

Dave Flynn’s two pieces worked at different poles of the traditional/ classical intersection. An Irish Farrago (from O’Carolan to Ó Riada)arranges Irish material spanning four centuries. Music for the Departed, a coming to terms with the deaths of the composer’s mother Joan and aunt Catherine, creates a faux Hayes/Cahill set, in which the material is actually by Flynn himself.

Flynn clearly understands the problems of marrying the traditional and the classical, and he’s not afraid of the simple solution of having a pale background to the main material.

If anything, he’s too in thrall to that material (whether it’s traditional or actually his own), and too willing to let it say the same thing again and again. I heard Music for the Departedin an all-Flynn concert by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra last November. It didn’t wear well on a second hearing.

On tour until Saturday, December 17th