Great Music in Irish Houses has evolved over four and half decades. Originally known as the Festival of Music in Great Houses, there has been a shift away from hidden Ireland ancestral homes to events in more easily accessible, historic public buildings in the capital.

The only out-of-town venue on this year’s six-day schedule was perennial favourite, Kilruddery House, near Bray. Two new venues were introduced: the neo Classical Casino, in Marino, and the GPO.

Anglo-Irish ensemble, the Carducci Quartet, in their festival debut, gave the opening recital with cellist Guy Johnston at the verdant National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. Cellist William Butt shared a platform with rising star Christopher Ellis, at a sold-out Casino. There was disappointment when Richard Goode had to withdraw, but the show went on, with Denis Kozhukhin stepping in. The Russian pianist was here to join the Pavel Haas Quartet, in the restored Kevin Barry Room, at the NCH.

Tenor, Robin Tritschler, with eminent lieder specialist Graham Johnson, gave the concluding recital at Dublin Castle. That was the climax of four staggered musical events under the title, ‘The Dublin Musical Saunter’, which had a Shakespeare theme (this is the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death).

The title suggests nonchalance, but there was nothing casual about Tritschler’s programme of Schubert Lieder, and songs associated with Shakespeare’s plays. With its striking interior and warm acoustic, the intimate Chapel Royal was a spectacular space in which to see, and hear, every nuance and crisply enunciated syllable from this exceptional duo.

Early music was foremost when Cork soprano Deirdre Moynihan, with guitarist Alec O’Leary, presented their bardic selection at the Writers’ Museum. Surrounded by all the paraphernalia of a modern financial services floor, one had to look towards the magnificent ceiling for a sense of the historic in the GPO. With a premier of a new piece, ‘A Half Darkness’, by composer Stephen McNeff, with text by Aoife Mannix, Chamber Choir Ireland marked the centenary in the building most associated with the Rising.

Cathy Desmond


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