Irish Baroque Orchestra ‘Jupiter and the Bear’ at RIAM

Irish Baroque Orchestra at Whyte Recital Corridor, RIAM, Dublin, on 9 September 2023

Dublin’s latest music venue – the Whyte Recital Corridor – opened earlier this week, and there may be loads of buzz about it. For Dublin, it’s that uncommon factor: an precise purpose-built live performance corridor. Additionally, as tonight’s conductor Peter Whelan factors out in the beginning, most of the orchestra’s gamers, himself included, lower their performing enamel within the former Dagg Corridor, very close to to the place this new house is located within the reconfigured Royal Irish Academy of Music, so it’s thrilling to search out oneself right here – with its elegant curves, comfy seating, and darkish wood surfaces. Tonight it performs host to its first orchestral live performance, with the Irish Baroque Orchestra performing music by Josef Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Whelan, usually seen directing from the harpsichord, is now free to easily conduct, which he does with gentle, impressionistic gestures, imbued along with his attribute vitality. The primary work, Haydn’s Symphony No. 82 in C, opens with immediacy and brightness, the tone sharp and clear – however maybe too clear? At first, the depth of the sound appears forceful, even brittle, whereas the method to tempo appears a bit too fastened, making one want for a smoother sense of ensemble and extra give-and-take in dynamic and pulse. The third-movement minuet-and-trio additionally dangers being barely heavy for a courtly dance, however then one thing occurs within the finale.

This final motion, with its bagpipe-like drone results, was referred to as ‘Dance of the Bears’ in an 1829 piano association (ensuing within the symphony’s nickname, ‘The Bear’), and this putting second clearly captures the gamers’ imaginations. An excellent set-piece, the music turns into a blazing riot of color, spin, and verve, with sensible contrasts in scale and texture. Whelan resists making a meal out of the motion’s many false endings (one other playful side of this work), drawing it as a substitute to an emphatic shut.

The music of Mozart follows, and there may be a lot to take pleasure in within the youthful Oboe Concerto, Ok.314. Soloist Andreas Helm, a everlasting member of the orchestra, provides an immaculate efficiency of this testing work. Steadiness between soloist and ensemble is well-judged, because the candy and straight tone of the solo instrument builds over the dancing rhythms within the ensemble. Helm’s enjoying is a pleasure to listen to, his tone clean and touching, with light ornaments and an attractive depth of sound within the two cadenzas. The sluggish motion has an virtually aria-like expressiveness, whereas the finale is crisp and clear.

The massive showpiece is saved to the top, with Mozart’s extraordinary Symphony No. 41 in C, Ok.551 (the ‘Jupiter’). After its deliberately abrupt opening, the rising string and woodwind textures make for a richly cohesive community of layers, with effective particulars alongside the best way. The impact of this turns into even larger within the sluggish motion, hypnotically magical in its interaction between the completely different colors of the ensemble, with effective enjoying throughout the completely different sections. The complicated brilliance of the finale is a factor of marvel, sweeping all earlier than it.

It’s potential that – for each the orchestra and the acoustic design of the corridor – we’re witnessing a work-in-progress, and one no much less welcome for that. We are able to solely hope that within the months and years to return there can be extra such encounters on this house of prospects.

Josef Haydn: Symphony No. 82 in C, ‘The Bear’
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Oboe Concerto, Ok.314; Symphony No. 41 in C, Ok.551, ‘Jupiter’
Irish Baroque Orchestra, Andreas Helm (oboe), Peter Whelan (conductor)

Photos by Pawel Bebenca (above) and Alison Byrne (under)


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