Chief Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra Jaime Martín in full flow.

Cork Orchestral Society starts autumn with Slavic flourish

Russia may not be the flavour of the month right now but some Russian music will be on the programme when the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) makes a long-awaited return to City Hall next week.

Get set on Saturday 24 September for an evening of extravagant Russian drama and romance conducted by the NSO’s internationally renowned Chief Conductor Jaime Martín with the brilliant violin virtuoso Viktoria Mullova as soloist. It will be her second performance with the NSO.

It’s all part of the new season programme of the Cork Orchestral Society which was launched recently.

Artistic Director of Cork Orchestral Society Tom Crowley said at the launch: “We're looking forward to the launch of Cork Orchestral Society's long awaited 2022 autumn season. This will be a celebration of symphonic orchestral music, and we have pulled out all the stops!

“We begin with the National Symphony Orchestra, Ireland's largest professional symphony orchestra, making a proud return to Cork on 24 September with a captivating programme of Slavic music. This marks the first of no less than seven orchestral programmes we are excited to present in Cork before year's end.

“Another highlight will be welcoming the RTÉ Concert Orchestra back to City Hall (19 November) where they will perform a world live premiere of ‘The Burning of Cork Suite’, a recent composition by Cork composer Paul Frost. To mention that the season will include ‘Handel's Messiah’ (featuring Cork Baroque Players and Madrigal '75) only now is a testament to the wealth of high quality orchestral music on offer this season. Our offering also includes two wonderful string quartet concerts with the Pirosmani Quartet and the Solas Quartet and a host of other musical treats,” he added.

On the programme for 24 September in Cork City Hall, Shostakovich’s ‘Festive Overture’, Prokofiev’s ‘Second Violin Concerto’ and Mussorsky’s dazzling ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’.

The powerhouse ‘Second Violin Concerto’ is arguably one of the greatest concertos and it’s a gymnastic challenge for the violin. The orchestral accompaniment is no less nimble, referencing traditional Russian folk music and, in the dance-like delirium of its finale, the sun-scorched heat of Spain.

The greatest Russian composer of the 20th century, Dmitri Shostakovich’s music was shaped by lifelong conflict with his censorious Soviet paymasters. The bright, brisk ‘Festive Overture’ is a brilliant, bristling, brass-led salute commissioned in 1954 for the 37th anniversary of the October Revolution. Loosely based on the Overture to Glinka’s opera ‘Ruslan and Lyudmila’, it was composed at speed in just three days. That energy is palpably to the fore in vibrant, colourful music full of drive and vitality.

Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ is a one of the most colourful and contagious of all orchestral showpieces: a dazzling kaleidoscope of images drawn from Victor Hartmann’s paintings populated by gnomes, quarrelling children, a strutting hut on hen’s legs, and unhatched chickens in a bizarre ballet.