The best classical music this week: RTÉ NSO Christmas Gala

Lauma Skride, UO/Olari Elts – Ailish Tynan (soprano), ICO/Katherine Hunka (violin)

Wednesday, December 13

RTÉ NSO Christmas Gala
National Opera House, Wexford 7.30pm €25-€45 bit.ly/2zF9WFS; also Dublin, Thurs; Drogheda, Fri
This year's RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Christmas Gala is being heard in Wexford and Drogheda and Wexford as well as Dublin. The soloists are the of the first and second prizewinners at last year's Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition, Egyptian soprano Fatma Said and American tenor William Davenport. With conductor Robert Houlihan, they offer excerpts from Massenet's Manon, take a trek through operetta and Broadway-style Bernstein before ending in seasonal and Hollywood terrain. MD

Lauma Skride, UO/Olari Elts
Ulster Hall, Belfast 2pm Adm free bbc.in/2njWGVx

Latvian pianist Lauma Skride is not a newcomer to Ireland. She has performed here in partnership with her better-known violin-playing sister, Baiba, most recently in a Great Music in Irish Houses concert in 2015. Now she appears as soloist in Liszt's Totentanz as part of a BBC invitation with the Ulster Orchestra under Estonian conductor Olari Elts. The programme includes another work by Liszt that deals with death, The Black Gondola, John Adams's 1989 chamber orchestration of Liszt's La lugubre gondola II, prompted by a premonition of Wagner's funeral cortège in Venice. The outer works by Mendelssohn – The Marriage of Camacho Overture and excerpts from Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream – are altogether lighter in tone. MD

Thursday, December 14

Ailish Tynan (soprano), ICO/Katherine Hunka (violin)
St Mary's Cathedral, Limerick 8pm €22/€20/€10; also Mullingar, Fri 10th bit.ly/2kaRfXA
Mullingar soprano Ailish Tynan teams up with the Irish Chamber Orchestra directed by its leader Katherina Hunka for two Best of Christmas Concerts. Seasonal favourites jostle with music from countries where snow at Christmas is guaranteed. The programme opens with the Andante festivo by Finland's Sibelius and Norway's Grieg is represented by a selection of his love songs and the popular Holberg Suite. MD

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