Miceal O’Rourke was in virtuoso form for Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor for the RTE National Symphony Orchestra’s visit to WIT, Good Shepherd Chapel, last Friday night.. The audience loved his beautiful work on the middle Romance section and his acclaim was long and sustained and O’Rourke acknowledged the applause with a repeat passage.

Under the methodical baton of Japanese conductor, Takuo Yuasa, the orchestra shone with the brassy fanfares of Shostakovich’s Festival Overture. A real slice of Russian movie music of the fifties that tried to out – Hollywood, Hollywood with its airy Magnificent Men fanfares that composers dashed off for dosh and dashas. These fanfares to the red rouble supposedly celebrated the comarade worker and gave life to a new wind of temporary change.

Micael O’Rourke made his way to the piano like a Montgomery Burns lookalike and launched into Chopin’s Piano Concerto where, in the early movement, the piano was often muted by the large orchestra in a Chapel setting that is not suitable for a symphony. Chopin’s orchestral work is not particularly wonderful but O’Rourke’s mastery of the Romance was beautiful.

After the interval the Tchaikovsky Little Russian Symphony lacked a lot of sparkle until the dance tune in movement two. A jolly Scherzo is folky and changes into a brassy fanfare Moderata the presaged the movie music to come less than a hundred years later. This brassy battle with drums made the audience happy and content.

Heating was a problem and it is not a good omen to see the orchestra hugging the radiators before the concert. A cold win poured down on the audience where I was and at the internal doors were opened to facilitate removal of a grand piano. Why, oh why? Add to this, the awful plastic chairs with no back support and no leg-room. Surely the Sports Hall on the Main Campus was better than this?