It was a pleasure to be at the Dublin Orchestral Players as part of the SCOW programme at Christ Church Cathedral, especially when the opening Mendelssohn was a selection from his A Midsummer Night’s Dream, almost a week away from the actual time. A zippy Scherzo set the light, bright and airy tone, with a dancing flute passage that brought images of fairies into the space – a cool yellow space. The Intermezzo was romantic like Lambrusco and a Nocturne has lovely brass sombre tones before Rupeltanz, a Clown Dance was short bouncy and exciting.
The guitarist Michael O’Toole was in fine expressive form for the beautiful Rodrigo, Concerto de Aranjuez. It’s called after a garden, not oranges, but it summons up a bitter sweet romance. Just right for a summer’s night. Individual instruments like an oboe, a cor anglais, were hauntingly beautiful in the familiar and famous Adagio. O’Toole was excellent and if a few times he was lost to the orchestra it was probably a quirk of the building’s reverberating acoustic or just where I was sitting. I loved his work and the sadness toward the end was beautiful. Ciaran Crilly was a lively, sensitive conductor and the closing Allegro Gentile as a stately dance fuelled with sunlight and late brightness.
After the interval, the Haydn Clock symphony had great life and some fine solo type passages. My mind wandered to remembering that Haydn had worked for four Esterhazy princes during a thirty year period in which his genius developed. The Esterhazy palace contained two theatres, a concert hall with resident orchestra. Within that thirty years one of the princes had shut down the auditoria and disbanded the musicians. A salutary tale in this time of arts uncertainty but Haydn’s music survived and we enjoy it today due to a mix of genius, self-belief and intermitted patronage.