Friday 08 May

Christian Reif conducts

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

Time 7:30pm
National Concert Hall Dublin

Tickets: €15 more info

  • Christian Reif
  • Julia Bullock
  • Bartók

    Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta / 27’

  • Britten

    Les Illuminations / 21’

  • Shostakovich

    Symphony No. 6 / 30’

Please note: This concert will be preceded at 6.30pm by Soundings free pre-concert talk with Christian Reif and Julia Bullock in conversation.

Three unique 20th-century masterpieces: a blazing orchestral showpiece, a sensuous song cycle and a symphony celebrating ‘moods of spring, joy and youth’.

Christian Reif, ‘a conductor of considerable stature’ (San Francisco Chronicle), leads the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra through the helter-skelter ride of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. Bristling with attitude, it divides the orchestra into a mirror-image of itself before shattering it into a dazzling kaleidoscope of animated colours and shapes that is ‘simultaneously primitive and sophisticated; wild and controlled; serene and terrifying; serious and slapstick’.

Soprano Julia Bullock, whose ‘voice is certainly one of the most beautiful lyric instruments of her generation’ (Opera News), is an alluring advocate for Benjamin Britten’s song-cycle Les Illuminations. Setting poems by the provocative prophet of modernism, Arthur Rimbaud, it’s by turns savage, sensual and challenging with a lingering hint of the erotic. Its vibrant vocal line soars over, darts between and cuts through the music’s lustrous tones and sinewy textures to produce something heightened and hypnotic.

A glorious orchestral extravaganza that begins in funereal solemnity and ends in farcical excess, Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony was composed in 1939 as war approached. It opens with ominous, gathering storms clouds out of which glowing light strives and struggles to emerge before bursting into hysterical life with a whirling, adrenalin-fuelled waltz and boiling over into cartoon grotesquery.