Elizabeth Cooney, the Cork-born violinist, won over the appreciative hearts of a SCOW audience for her evocative and virtuoso exploration of Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A minor with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. Early in the work I was bothered by a sort of scratchy tone but the intense lyrical sonority of the Adagio filled me with a radiant sadness and when Cooney was fiery, she was powerful and her stylishly wispy two-tone hair colouring gave the performance a showy quality. The more lyrical passages put someone to sleep and the snores only helped drown out the thumping pump in the back left-hand side of an unsuitable venue with little legroom, lousy seating and cramped aisleways.
Cooney was excellent in the spirited attack of a Slavonic dance in the finale and the darker deeper resonances were a wow.
The concert opened with a slice of Smetana’s Ma Vlast, a nationalistic poem, where the triumphalistic themed piece of the river Vltava was all a summer of backwaters, quiet pools and rattling cascades. I get the impression that Smetana is saying – my/our river is better than your river and I then can’t get Jimmy Nail’s Tyneside anthem, Big River, out of my head.
The second part of the evening didn’t live up to the vivacity of the first part and the long Tchaikovsky No. 6 in B minor, doesn’t have the big magic with a dark brooding opening that leads into a range of moods, like a travelogue.
Too often it seemed like Ballet music with themes or motifs for characters we couldn’t see or imagine. Well into the third section you get the hippity hop bobitty bop of a march before a rousing sort of there is beauty in the bellow of the blast.
The final Adagio lapses back into gloom and doom – suitable for recessionistas – fiddles moan, a bassoon or two do glum. They it got all holy moly and redemptive with trombones dying into silence.