Here at GoldenPlec, we’re passionate not only about writing about music, but also about encouraging others to do so. Every year, with the help of the UCD Music Department, we set a class of music students the task of attending a concert and writing a review, the the finest piece of writing being published on GoldenPlec. And, here we are. This year’s victor is UCD music student John Howard, for his review of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra.

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall Dublin,  20th February 2015.

The audience tonight visiting the National Concert Hall for the National Symphony Orchestra’s usual Friday night slot are treated to a superb programme. The evening’s music opens with the Overture to Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. While relatively short, this work contains quite a breadth of musical styles, ranging from the quiet, almost sombre Adagio section at the beginning to the Presto, joyful ending. It was played with zest and panache by the Orchestra.

The second work of the evening is Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61. The first movement, Allegro ma non troppo, calls for considerable virtuosity on the part of the soloist after a long orchestral lead-in. The second movement, Larghetto, has a simple theme which is traded beautifully between the solo violin and the orchestra, both in its prime shape and with a number of variations. The Rondo, the last movement, ends the Concerto with a fast but melodic conclusion. The soloist Helena Wood, the Concertmaster of the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, gives a palpable sense of her close connection with the Orchestra during the performance. Her considerable talent is clearly demonstrated in a masterful performance of this work, which is an extremely demanding one. The ovation she received at the end is resounding, not least from her colleagues in the Orchestra. She responds with a brief solo encore to round off the first part of the evening.

The final work is Richard Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie (Alpine Symphony), Op. 64, and it is here that an enlarged Symphony Orchestra does more than adequate justice to a complicated composition. Some have dismissed the Alpine Symphony as a series of short musical interludes, rather than a symphony; Strauss contributed to an episodic interpretation, by giving titles to each of the twenty two sections, such as “Entry into the forest”, “On the summit”, “Sunset”, etc. However, this performance transcended that feeling by pulling the work together in a very comprehensive manner. The sheer volume generated by the percussion and brass sections of the Orchestra is overpowering at times, and takes somewhat from the enjoyment of the work. However, the composition does call for some extremely loud and noisy sections, communicating the part played by the forces of nature in this musical journey into the mountains.

The German conductor, Jonas Alber, was asked to stand in at relatively short notice for the concert, and he does so with aplomb.  The overall performance of the Orchestra, soloist, and conductor is assured and confident.


Fredrick May – Sunlight and Shadow

Carlos Chávez – Symphony No.2 Sinfonía India

Ney Rosauro – Marimba Concerto

Igor Stravinsky – Petrushka

Arturo Marquez – Danson No.2