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2004-10-15 Dublin, NCH

reviewed by John

 

Having seen Beate (along with Anja) in the Hall on Sunday, perhaps I can fill in a few of the details and relieve her of some of the burden. The first half of the concert saw the guys attired in evening dress. The highlight for me (by a LONG way) was the duet from The Pearl Fishers (sung by a trio, of course). Wonderful melody, and they used their volume control to absolute perfection. We also got a re-run of O Sole Mio; this time the horsing around is somewhat more subtle - that is it isn't physically trying to push your colleague out of the the way. At this venue, with its upper circle, part of which is adjacent to the stage, Niall vanished only to make his reappearance on the balcony trying to outsing the other two who had remained on stage.

 

The second half started with Granada, the three Scottish sopranos (PrimaDiva) took the stage and sang from Carmen, then Amazing Grace, accapella at first, then supported by the orchestra and choir (oh how I love to see and hear a decent choir) into a glorious crescendo.The boys and Deidre then joined them for a selection from West Side Story - again breathtaking. Then another achingly beautiful song - Matthew and Deidre singing 'The Prayer'. No idea who wrote it, but their performance was faultless and very moving.

 

The choir was The Cavan Singers. In general terms, the evening was very short on traditional Irish fare and long on opera, operetta, and musical numbers. It was quite a change from the standard fare (for example, I'd have loved to have heard Caledonia and Nella Fantasia too), and I know that some people found it a little too different for their tastes. But really variety is the spice of life, and when you get variety of this superlative calibre, you simply can't go wrong.

 

I'm not sure if it was just my ears playing tricks, or whether it's normal to raise the bar when performing in prestigious venues, whether the acoustics are superior in the NCH, or whether the microphones are more sensitive, but I have to say that I have never heard these guys in better voice than they were on Sunday night. Each one's contribution was clearly defined, the harmonies were immaculate, and frankly the whole show was a treasure. One I shall not forget in a very long time. On the personal side, wonderful to see Jean, Sandra, and Brid again too. And I fully endorse what Beate said about the weather, at least in the Dublin area. Sunday's weather was fantastic, and highlighted the vivid greens of the surrounding countryside only too well. The only thing to match that was the warmth of the Irish people themselves. How come they are so REALLY friendly and warm? The comparison between the snarls and scowls in London and the twinkling eyes and smiles in Dublin is so acute, it's embarrassing.