Cellos held sway in Bantry at the start of the week at the 24th West Cork Chamber Music Festival. Grammy-nominated Bulgarian composer, Dobrinka Tabakova was in town to hear her cello concerto delivered by Laura van der Heijden.
Hearing both ladies in conversation at a genial morning talk with Lyric presenter Evelyn Grant drew out fascinating insights into the genesis of the work and their careers.
The Festival Strings, largely comprised 20 young players drawn from the masterclass programme running during the festival, gave an energetic performance of the attractive work.
The intensity of the delivery of pulsating rhythms of the ‘turbulent and tense’ first movement occasionally threatened to submerge the soloist.
The spirit of the Balkans also permeated the latter part of the concert at St Brendan’s Church as cello yielded to the clarinet of Mate Bekavac in a performance of a neglected rarity; the last completed work by Moldovan composer Mieczyslav Weinberg.
From the incredible hush of the opening pianissimo, David Brophy led his forces with a thrilling intensity through the sharp mood changes of the Chamber Symphony No 4 ending with a single stroke of a triangle.
The voices of the eight-piece Fieri Ensemble served up a dollop of melancholy at the mid-morning slot in their selection of laments that delighted Renaissance enthusiasts.
Before yielding to ensembles featuring cellists Johannes Moser and Emmanuelle Bertrand, the flamboyant Azahar Wind Quartet opened Monday evening’s concert with an unfamiliar work by 20th-century Hungarian composer Endre Szervansky.
As the gloaming gave way to darkness, the candles were lit in the Library at Bantry House for the late-night recital.
But it was the smiles from the gentlemen of The Borusan Quartet from Turkey that lit up the space as their delightful delivery of the late Beethoven Quartet Opus 131 appeared to give the players as much pleasure as it did the audience.
Concerts are recorded for broadcast on RTE Lyric FM.
West Cork Chamber Music Festival continues until July 7.