Celine-ByrneEnding the 2013/14  season with a difficult programme, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra opens the closing concert with Wagner’s Tannhauser Overture. Infamous for being difficulty to play and conduct, principal conductor Alan Buribayev handles the work with delicacy and care, although the work never quite reaches its full potential, with a distinct lack of power in the orchestra for this style of orchestral work. However, they handle the work with care, with the brass section oozing quality, with an excellent tone throughout.

Soloist Celine Byrne takes to the stage for Strauss’s Vie Letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs). Byrne displays a lovely tone throughout, but struggles under the volume of the orchestra at times as they readjust from the Wagner. The third song, Beim Schlafengehen, is the highlight of this set of songs, as Byrne’s tone compliments the work. Joined by first violin for a wonderfully atmospheric solo, this is by far the most enticing of the four songs.

Returning after the interval, the orchestra move straight into the Brahms Symphony No.2. A decidedly pastoral work, the orchestra offers the work a warmth of tone, overseen by Buribayev with delicate care. The slightly more urgent sentiments of the Adagio Non Troppo are translated well to the audience, without becoming overpowering, and the move back to the joyous and pastoral tones of the Allegretto Grazioso is smooth and natural.

The work as a whole is a step away from the enticing first half, paling slightly in comparison to the excitement of Wagner and the romantic dramatics of Strauss, but serves well to draw the evening to a relaxing close. Ending their 2013/14 season on a high, the NSO leave everyone eagerly anticipating their return to the National Concert Hall.


Wagner – Tannhäuser Overture 
Richard Strauss – Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs
Brahms – Symphony No. 2