Friday 04 May

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

Time 7:30pm
National Concert Hall Dublin

Tickets: from €15

  • Stefan Asbury
    conductor (replacing Thomas Adès who has withdrawn due to unforeseen circumstances)
  • Thomas Trotter 
  • Brahms
    Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn, Op.56a
  • Gerald Barry
    Organ Concerto [Irish premiere]
  • Tchaikovsky
    Symphony No. 6


The Classical and Romantic eras meet and mingle with becoming delicacy in Brahms’s infectious Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn. Although scholars have since distanced Haydn from the Divertimento No. 1 for wind ensemble attributed to him – from which Brahms borrowed its ‘Chorale St Anthony’ second movement – there’s no denying (or refusing) the gorgeously lithe lyricism, involving high drama and yearning romance of Brahms’s tribute.

 A new work by Gerald Barry – ‘a composer of strange and rare device’ (Sunday Times) is always an event. Commissioned by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, his Organ Concerto sees him returning to the instrument for the first time since 1994’s miniature, The Chair. Barry succinctly describes the concerto as ‘a stormy conversation between organist and orchestra’. Featuring 21 metronomes at one point and variously evoking the Angelus bells, a feline friend ‘mourning the loss of atonality’ and remembered ‘musics that are like surreal familiar objects’, it promises to be quintessential Barry.

There is quintessential Tchaikovsky, too, in his ravishingly beautiful but searing Sixth Symphony, the Pathétique. The composer’s last significant musical statement – the premiere of which he conducted just nine days before his death in 1893 – it has become one of the cornerstones of the symphonic repertoire. A late, last, dark-hued masterpiece of remarkable emotional breadth, pulse-quickening lyricism, porcelain-delicate poetry, unbridled passion and an altogether baleful beauty, it is impossible to resist its effusive energy and exquisite sincerity.