Late Night Cello Ensemble Recital at the National Concert Hall, Friday 10th October.

The inaugural concert of Cello Ireland took the form of a cello octet performance, which followed the regular Friday night performance of the National Symphony Orchestra. The internationally renowned Daniel Müller-Schott had given a powerful performance of Dvorák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor in the 8pm concert, and stayed to make a guest appearance with the cello octet. His solo appearance was the centrepiece of this short performance, and as expected his playing eclipsed the eight other accomplished cellists accompanying him.

Cello Ireland is a new society for cellists in Ireland, and the octet performance this evening consisted largely of players from National Symphony Orchestra’s cello section, and were led by this section’s leader Martin Johnson. Johnson led the group first into a sumptuous arrangement by Fiachra Trench of Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek, which used the cluster chords of the original to showcase the rich sound of eight cellos playing together. Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, also arranged by Trench, also produced interesting textures, reinforcing why Fiachra Trench is the go-to industry arranger in Ireland. These two arrangements were well performed, and framed the main piece of the concert, Kol Nidrei featuring Müller-Schott.

Written as a meditation on Jewish themes for cello and orchestra, Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei is not very often performed, as soloists tend to favour the great concerti of the romantic era; nevertheless, Müller-Schott’s performance seems to come completely naturally, and is intense and technically flawless. The piece is all too short at ten minutes, and our soloist is gone as quickly as he arrived.

The cello ensemble’s fourth (and final) piece is another popular arrangement, this time Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. Johnson comically stamps along with his over the top-count in, but the comic effect wears off about a minute in to the piece. With most of the players assigned high-register playing at some point, small intonation slips are noticeable, and it seems the players aren’t quite as comfortable with this arrangement, which isn’t quite up to the level of Fiachra Trench’s earlier arrangements.

This short performance had the feeling of a relaxed encore to the 8pm Symphony Orchestra concert, and can be considered a successful first performance for Cello Ireland (who had also organised a masterclass for young cellists with Daniel Müller-Schott earlier in the week). Some more varied repertoire would have been appreciated by the sizeable audience, with three of the four pieces being pop song arrangements; nevertheless, we can be sure there is many exciting ventures to come from Cello Ireland.


Imogen Heap: Hide and Seek

Max Bruch: Kol Nidrei, Op. 47

Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now

Coldplay: Viva la Vida