Lunchtime Concert: RTÉ Concert Orchestra in National Concert Hall, on 11 August 2015
This, the second of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra’s series of lunchtime concerts, features two young artists making their first appearances with the orchestra: flautist Miriam Kaczor and conductor Eugene Monteith. The all-French programme is a welcome change from the usual Austro-German-Russian fare, and the brief opening fanfare of Paul Dukas’ ballet La Péri makes for an arresting start. Its rich sonority foregrounds the orchestra’s brass players, who make the most of its colourful score with tight ensemble playing.
This is followed by concert’s major work, Jacques Ibert’s Flute Concerto. A popular competition showpiece for flautists – severely testing the soloist’s dexterity and breath control – Kaczor takes to it with a warm, easy tone, and negotiates the fast passagework of the opening and closing movements with crisp fluidity. Her smooth phrasing in the impressionistic middle movement makes for a rich contrast, well-balanced by supportive playing from the ensemble. The shifts between light and shade are nicely delineated in the busy finale by soloist and orchestra alike, with Kaczor showing technical brilliance in the work’s closing cadenza, only risking stridency in the high final notes of the piece.
The orchestra eases back into lighter material with Georges Bizet’s Petite Suite, the five numbers he orchestrated from his piano cycle Jeux d’enfants (‘children’s games’). The playing is as light and transparent as you’d want, and Monteith draws out an attractive balance of polish and sparkle in the ensemble. The lightness of touch continues in the overture to Jacques Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers (‘Orpheus in the underworld’), the colourful orchestration enhanced with some characterful solo playing from, amongst others, Michael Seaver (clarinet) and orchestra leader Mia Cooper (violin). The closing section, finishing with its famous can-can, brings the concert to a cheerful end, its spinning colours propelling the audience into the August sunshine.
Dukas: Fanfare, La Péri
Ibert: Flute Concerto
Bizet: Jeux d’enfants, Op. 22 (Petite Suite for Orchestra)
Offenbach: Overture, Orphée aux enfers