Irish Chamber Orchestra 

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Katherine Hunka and the Irish Chamber Orchestra combine Vivaldi’s iconic Four Seasons with Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. Vivaldi’s Seasons has long enjoyed immense popularity and never fails to enchant with its freshness and musical brilliance.

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Travel back in time to the glory days of 19th century Vienna with a magical mix of music and song. A Vienna awash with opulent parties and glittering ballrooms filled with dancers whirling deliriously, revelling to a new phenomenon called the waltz. Josef Lanner transformed the peasant dance but the Strauss family soon captured a monopoly on both waltz and polka, feeding the insatiable demand of Vienna’s enthusiasm.

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Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture is renowned for its powerful opening. This counter-balances the powerful symphonic close of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 (Reformation), the heart of the programme. Mendelssohn’s obsession with Bach’s counterpoint inspired Widmann’s own Attempt at a Fugue for Soprano & Orchestra.

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Gábor Takács-Nagy ends his journey with Haydn with two of his sensational violin concerti. The extraordinary violinist, Kristóf Barati performs these gems from Esterhazy. The virtuosic First, written for violinist Luigi Tomasini is reminiscent of Vivaldi. The Fourth is courtly and grand.

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Sam Perkin’s Nimbus for String Orchestra has been generously funded by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. Hungarian cellist István Várdai, whose youthful virtuosity won the hearts of fans, in 2013, makes a welcome return perfoming Schumann’s intensely romantic Cello Concerto. The traditional 3-movement Concerto is fused into one, demanding a broad palette of colours, a lightness of touch and Vardai’s reading of it is much anticipated.

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The ICO welcomes back internationally renowned soprano Ailish Tynan who steps in for the incapacitated Fiona Murphy, who was scheduled to make her debut with the orchestra. Ailish sings firm French favourites alongside some best-loved traditional Christmas carols.

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Widmann continues his exploration of the Mendelssohn Symphonies and other prodigious works. Nowhere is Mendelssohn‘s talent more evident that in those early Sinfonias, where the range of invention far exceeds the expectation. No. 4 takes inspiration from Handel, while No. 8 captures the teenage spirit rather splendidly.

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The virtuosic Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 BWV 1049 has a delightful freshness that is outstanding, even among the glories of the Bach’s output as a whole. Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060 is one of his greatest concerti. The overall effect is plaintive and mesmerising –as the two soloists weave around each other dancing.

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Haydn in London

This programme is booked-ended by two of Haydn’s most significant London symphonies and marks the end of Gábor Takács-Nagy’s symphonic journey with Haydn. The Clock epitomises the composer’s wit with elegance alongside Haydn’s final and greatest London Symphony, a tour de force, a work of unsurpassed concentration, invention and consummate mastery.

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The Irish Chamber Orchestra has a reputation second to none both at home and abroad. Katherine Hunka directs two exciting performances of exceptional diversity that offer a kaleidoscopic range of music, combining old with newer sounds.

Gidon Kramer’s arrangement of Alfred Schnittke’s Polka is racy but quite funny. His comical Moz-Art à la Haydn grew from Schnittke’s extraordinary ability to fragment and reassemble diverse music in new and unexpected ways. Two colliding worlds, from the clarity of Mozart to the chaos of Schnittke, make for one great parody. Haydn’s seldom heard duet demonstrates great virtuosity from the soloists. Mozart’s Divertimento in B is full of sparking and dramatic themes, a shining example of the young composer’s most enchanting string music. Tchaikovsky wrote his Serenade on impulse “from the heart”. As one of the all-time great tunesmiths and masters of dance music, these talents radiate in his effervescent and much loved Serenade.

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