It was, for the most part, bliss to attend the final SCOW concert at the regularly uncomfortable Good Shepherd’s Chapel at College Street, and be amazed at the virtuoso clarinet work of nineteen year old Julian Bliss with the exciting National Youth Orchestra. Bliss has the youthful genius to amaze and it’s no wonder C4 made a programme about him with the simple title: Gifted. His work, on the fine Mozart Concerto for clarinet and orchestra was a highlight as was his zippy encore of Flight Of The Bumblebee.
Three talented Waterford youths, Rebecca McCarthy-Kent (violin), Caoimhe O’Carroll (double bass) and Anne O’Riordan (oboe), featured in the orchestra, conducted as always with vim and value by Gearoid Grant.
Opening with the Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture, this was vital and restless changes of musical colour and almost cinemascope effects. Waves of violins got stormy with brass and calmed by a clarinet.
Julian Bliss started the Mozart concerto a little hesitantly, I thought, perhaps sensing the dead acoustics of the chapel but his Adagio work was sublime with just that bitter sweet touch of sadness as arpeggios raced into areas of the heart. The orchestras filled in the busy final Allegro and it was summer-kind-of-wonderful.
After the interval it was somewhat of an anti-climax for the lively, clattery, Caesar Franck Symphony in D Minor. A restless child rocking on those plastic seats was a distraction, as was an inconsiderate parent. I moved to the side and the lively work of an exuberant orchestra just didn’t reach me and I concluded that the work was a battle of different sounds and styles with a harp and cor anglais, then a thunder of instruments, to a noisy finale.
It seems that the future of SCOW is in doubt as there will be little or no orchestral touring or funding for 2010.