Polkas for pink elephants: this week’s best classical concerts

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Johnny Gandelsman and Stravinsky’s circus music

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
Kilkenny Arts Festival Saturday August 11th 8pm €30/€35 €27/€31.50 kilkennyarts.ie

The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin is in Kilkenny for performances of Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses. But the players are also giving a concert at St Canice's Cathedral, directed from the violin by Georg Kallweit. The evening is titled Monteverdi's Italy: The Rise of Instrumental Music, and the composers who feature along with Monteverdi are Bertali, Uccellini, Caccini, Falconieri, Valentini, Mealli, Marini, Legrenzi, Ferrari and Biber. By curious coincidence the Akademie is also playing that same evening, with violinist Isabelle Faust and oboist Xenia Löffler, a programme of works by Johann Bernard and Johann Sebastian Bach at the Festival Internacional Santander in Spain. It's a busy life at the top of the classical tree.

Johnny Gandelsman 
Kilkenny Arts Festival Monday August 13th 7.30pm €25/€22.50 kilkennyarts.iehttp://www.kilkennyarts.ie

Russian-born violinist Johnny Gandelsman, the leader of "genre-bending" string quartet Brooklyn Rider, visits Kilkenny for a marathon undertaking. He's going to play all six of Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin in a single evening. The concert is in St Canice's Roman Catholic Church, just down the road out of the city centre past St Canice's Cathedral. His performance has been scheduled to last two hours, and will be given without an interval.


RTÉCO/Paul McCusker
NCH, Dublin Tuesday August 14th 1.05pm €12 nch.ie

The RTÉ Concert Orchestra's lunchtime offering is full of tuneful lunchtime fare. It opens with the foot-tapping brio of the overture to Hérold's Zampa and ends with Three Dance Episodes from Leonard Bernstein's On the Town. In between there's a clog dance, a military march, and the polka Stravinsky wrote for an elephant. No, that's not a misprint. George Balanchine choreographed a production involving 50 elephants in pink tutus and 50 ballerinas for the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and that's where Stravinsky came into the picture. The soloist for the concert is the Irish tenor Paul McNamara who sings Lensky's Aria from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Vesti la giubba from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, and Zwei Märchenaugen from Kálmán's Die Zurkusprinzessin. The conductor is Paul McCusker, winner of this year's Feis Ceoil conducting competition, who is making his debut with the RTÉCO.