20 September 2022
By Elaine Murphy
The National Symphony Orchestra makes a long-awaited return to Cork City Hall, Cork on Saturday 24 September for an evening of extravagant Russian drama and romance conducted by its internationally renowned Chief Conductor Jaime Martín with the brilliant violin virtuoso Viktoria Mullova as soloist.
Speaking on the launch of the new season programme Artistic Director of Cork Orchestral Society Tom Crowley of said: “We’re looking forward to the launch of Cork Orchestral Society’s long awaited 2022 Autumn Season. This will be a celebration of symphonic orchestral music, and we have pulled out all the stops! We begin with the National Symphony Orchestra, Ireland’s largest professional symphony orchestra, making a proud return to Cork on September 24th with a captivating programme of Slavic music. This marks the first of no less than seven orchestral programmes we are excited to present in Cork before year’s end. Another highlight will be welcoming the RTE Concert Orchestra back to City Hall (November 19th) where they will perform a world live premier of “The Burning of Cork Suite”, a recent composition by Cork composer Paul Frost. To mention that the season will include Handel’s Messiah (featuring Cork Baroque Players and Madrigal ’75) only now is a testament to the wealth of high quality orchestral music on offer this season. Our offering also includes two wonderful string quartet concerts with the Pirosmani Quartet and the Solas Quartet and a host of other musical treats.”
On the programme for September 24 in Cork City Hall, Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Prokofiev’s powerhouse Second Violin Concerto and Mussorsky’s dazzling Pictures at an Exhibition. One of the instrument’s greatest concertos, it’s a gymnastic challenge for the violin, putting it through its paces with acrobatic agility and poetic delicacy. The orchestral accompaniment is no less nimble, referencing traditional Russian folk music and, in the dance-like delirium of its finale, the sun-scorched heat of Spain. There is lushness, too, in the inspired middle movement – a graceful, long-breathed confessional by the violin.
The greatest Russian composer of the 20th century, Dmitri Shostakovich’s music was shaped by lifelong conflict with his censorious Soviet paymasters. The bright, brisk Festive Overture is a brilliant, bristling, brass-led salute commissioned in 1954 for the 37th anniversary of the October Revolution. Loosely based on the Overture to Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Lyudmila, it was composed at speed in just three days. That energy is palpably to the fore in vibrant, colourful music full of wit, drive and invigorating vitality.
Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is a one of the most colourful and contagious of all orchestral showpieces: a dazzling kaleidoscope of images drawn from Victor Hartmann’s paintings populated by gnomes, quarrelling children, a strutting hut on hen’s legs, and unhatched chickens in a bizarre ballet. In Maurice Ravel’s ravishing orchestration, it’s a wonderful, fantastical collision of art gallery, cinema blockbuster and symphony orchestra, all hallucinating together.