The Cork Concert Orchestra opened an all-Russian programme under guest conductor Dumitru Goia with Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.
With his close association with the Leningrad Conservatory the Moldovan conductor inevitably imbued the performance with a quiet authority. The players responded with a thrilling, fully committed performance of the epic score “hewn to the backdrop of Stalin’s purges” as Cllr Mick Finn’s programme note put it.
On the podium, Goia exuded a gravitas with a poised intensity in his conducting style. The tutti strings sounded gorgeous with a faultless unanimity across the section whether the dynamic was a gossamer-like pianissimo or a voluptuous forte. The solo timbres of harp, celeste and flute offered welcome relief from the intensity of a brass in full triumphalist mode.
Mercifully, the applause didn’t last as long as the half an hour at the premiere more than 80 years ago but there was an enthusiastic standing ovation from the near capacity house which seemed to have a greater than usual representation of under 50s present. Passing through the foyer, the pre-concert chatter suggested that there was also a sprinkling of the Russian diaspora in the house.
The mood after the interval was lighter, with waltzes, polonaises and a dazzling soloist. Romanian violinist Diana Jipa, in a green satin gown cut a willowy figure on the platform. Like the conductor, she didn’t bob and weave, but there was plenty of passion and sparkling virtuosity in her rendition of Tachaikowsky’s sentimental pieces from Souvenir d’un Lieu Cher in an orchestral arrangement by Galzunov. Of these, the Melodie is best known from its original piano and violin arrangement. An encore of Danse Russe from Swan Lake combined a playful folk melody with a fiendish cadenza. The orchestra’s closing number, Glazunlov’s Concert Waltz No 1 was reprised as an encore.
Formed in 2015, Cork Concert Orchestra, a voluntary group, is a relatively new addition to the Cork music scene. With the pivotal figure in string playing, Adrian Petcu, as artistic director, they proved that they had the skills and fire power to deliver a night of excellent musicianship with a strong sense of occasion at City Hall. Bravo tutti.