Treats for piano gourmands: this week’s classical highlights

Emmanuelle Haïm brings French baroque to Dublin, rising star Duncan Ward conducts the RTÉ NSO; and Dublin International Piano Competition winners perform in Galway

Piano Gourmand
Emily Anderson Concert Hall, NUI Galway, Sunday February 4th, 3pm & 4.30pm, €20/€18/€6 per concert, €30/€27/€10 for both

Ireland's piano competition season is on the way. Six Irish entrants for the 2018 Dublin International Piano Competition have been chosen. Eoin Fleming, Antonia Huang, JJ McNamara, Cahal Masterson, Billy O'Brien and Peter Regan will enter the musical fray at the RDS in May. Meanwhile, the 2015 winner, France's Nathalia Milstein, can be heard in Galway playing Debussy's Estampes, Schumann's Fantasy in C, Op 17, and a new work by Sam Perkin. She opens a "Piano Gourmand" afternoon that also brings an appearance by the Spanish pianist Juan Pérez Floristán. He's the winner of the 2015 Paloma O'Shea Santander International Piano Competition where Barry Douglas took second prize in 1980 and Hugh Tinney won first prize in 1984. Floristán plays Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

Le Concert d'Astrée/Emmanuelle Haïm
NCH, Dublin, Thursday February 8th, 8pm, €29.50-€69.50

The French baroque is having quite an outing this month. Last week's RTÉ NSO programme featuring Rameau under Harry Bicket is followed by a visit from leading French period instruments ensemble Le Concert d'Astrée under Emmanuelle Haïm. The soloist is the wonderfully light and lyrical Czech mezzo soprano, Magdalena Kozená, who is making only her second appearance in Dublin. The repertoire runs to excerpts from Rameau – from his Hippolyte et Aricie, Dardanus, Castor et Pollux and Les Indes Galantes – as well as a selection from Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Médée.


RTÉ NSO/Duncan Ward
NCH, Dublin, Friday February 9th, 7.30pm €15-€35/€13-€31

France and Russia are the stopping points for the RTÉ NSO under rapidly rising British conductor Duncan Ward. Debussy's prophetic late ballet Jeux was first staged in Paris, with choreography by Nijinsky, just weeks before Stravinsky's Rite of Spring; the game of the title is a game of tennis. Poulenc's Concerto for two pianos, a work of insouciant brilliance, features Alexander Bernstein and Fiachra Garvey as soloists. The closing work is Prokofiev's wartime Fifth Symphony which the composer described as "a symphony on the greatness of the human soul".

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan is a music critic and Irish Times contributor