RTÉ NSO 70th Anniversary Celebration
Friday 16th February 7.30pm
Gerhard Markson conductor (replacing Tomas Netopil)
Orla Boylan, soprano
Finghin Collins piano
Wagner Prelude & Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, WWV90
Deirdre Gribbin The Binding Years of Piano (Piano Concerto)
Prokofiev Romeo & Juliet (excerpts)
The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 70th birthday in style. Love and hope are to the fore in an operatic beginning and ending of breath-taking stillness and emotional profundity, an intense modern meditation on Aztec fire rituals marking the passage of time, and in one of the romantic glories of the repertoire as Shakespeare’s star-cross’d lovers are given vibrant musical life.
On this auspicious occasion, the orchestra’s former Principal Conductor Gerhard Markson, soprano Orla Boylan - hailed for her 'astonishing vocal power...' by Seen and Heard International- and the ‘exceptionally fluent, exceptionally intelligent, exceptionally sensitive’ (International Record Review) Finghin Collins, all three firm favourites with the orchestra and with audiences, make a welcome return to perform – and to blow out any candles needing attention!
Few operas captured love’s ability to slow time and heighten emotions so thrillingly as Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. A tale of forbidden and ill-fated love between an Irish princess and a French nobleman, its opening Prelude and closing Liebestod (literally ‘Love-death’) frame one of the great love stories with music of sensual melodies, surging passion and an intense evocation of absolute physical and emotional communion.
Composed in 2012 for pianist Finghin Collins, Deirdre Gribbin’s Piano Concerto The Binding of the Years was inspired by an Aztec ritual in which one flame was used to ignite others. The practice poignantly reminded the Belfast-born composer of other rituals from Christianity and Judaism together with the candlelit processions of the ‘Peace People’ in her Troubles-torn home in the 1970s. She says: ‘The idea of passing light and rekindling a fire and welcoming a new sense of beginning and spirit is a hugely positive message and one, which has great meaning for our world today’. The concerto carries itself with a sense of immensity, of monumental forces at work, of primal shards and shafts of light in the darkness; of hope over fear.
So rich and resplendent was the musical material in Prokofiev’s 1935 ballet Romeo and Juliet that it spawned three orchestral suites and a work for solo piano. Its stirring march depicting the two rival families, ‘Montagues and Capulets’, has found its way into many films and television series, most recently in The Apprentice. Remarkably, Prokofiev adds tremendous depth of feeling to Shakespeare’s characters in music whose romantic credentials match that of the timeless tale on which it is based.