All posts by Andrew Newman

New York Philharmonic, Joyce DiDonato, Alan Gilbert NCH, Dublin 16/4/15

To start I shall apologise for the gap in my recent posts! I’m somewhat forgetful about doing blog posts in the recent past.  This post won’t necessarily be a review more observations that I made during the concert! The concert of the year for me in the National Concert Hall‘s International Concert Season 14/15 was undoubtedly the New York Philharmonic with Joyce DiDonato mezzo-soprano. 

The NY Phil played music suited to an orchestra of its size and brilliance, starting with contemporary music by conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen that is called Nyx. Written in 2010 this music was new to me. From the very first notes from the horns and eventually the strings, I knew this was going to be superb music with the magnificent resonant sound from this orchestra was like nothing I’d heard before.  Presumably named after the Greek goddess of the night, the music was abrasive from the percussion and brass one minute, nocturnal and lyrical from the woodwind the next. Sometimes during concerts my mind wanders, but not this time I barely noticed the 20 minutes go by with this music from the Finnish composer. Now that I think of it some parts of it reminded me of his fellow Finn Magnus Lindberg, but that could have been my mind playing tricks on me! Make up your own mind with this link here.

After the dramatic first 20 minutes, Joyce DiDonato came on to the stage, things were a little calmer with music of Maurice Ravel’s Schéhérazade In reading other people’s  reviews of this concert they thought she had difficulty with first 2 songs “Asie” and ”La flûte enchantée”, (i didn’t notice) but I would agree with the last of 3  ”L’indifférent” it was beautifully sung and the best of of the cycle. Robert Langevin principal flautist had a lovely solo in ”L’indifférent”. Indeed I welled up a little at the end of the last song, and of course she and the orchestra got an enormous applause.  At this point Joyce spoke to us with a couple words of Irish! If I had done my research properly I would have known her maiden name is Flaherty, she told us this much to the surprise of myself and the audience!

For her encore Alan Gilbert introduced and told us that they’ve had a long relationship with Joyce and asked her to sing Richard Strauss‘s song “Morgen!” for this tour, much to the delight of us all. It was stunning and yes for the first time in my concert going years, I had a little emotional moment. Watch the rehearsal of it here.

During the interval I made an interesting observation about the ladies in the first violins!

After the interval there was more music of Ravel this time Valses Nobles et Sentimentales waltzes which are a homage to Franz Schubert I must admit some parts were a little dreamy and not very waltz like but overall quite enjoyable.

But it was the last in the programme which was the most magnificent part of this concert , Strauss‘s Der Rosenkavalier Suite not made by Strauss himself and probably compiled by Artur Rodziński. The opera was inspired by Mozart with a nod to the waltzes of his namesake. This is where the NY Phil excelled, from the blaring French horns at the beginning the Philharmonic had such precision and much feeling with the music jumping off the pages, my favourite part the ‘Trio’ was sublime, and fine attention was made to the dynamics throughout the suite.

After about 5 curtain calls where the audience rather confusingly stayed sitting, my new friend to my left a seasoned visitor to the NCH said “They’d (the audience) jump up for less!” What followed was a lovely rendition and danceable version of the waltz from the first act of Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake. After that I said to my new friend “Well if nobody is going to stand up I will!” I did and the rest of the hall followed me! Finally we were jazzed out of the hall with a brass quintet (horn, two trumpets, trombone and tuba) in a 1920s-sounding number that was unexpected and entraining!

As I said earlier, in all my years going to the National Concert Hall this stands at the very top of the great orchestras that I’ve the the absolute pleasure of seeing there.

Lets hope it won’t take this truly staggering orchestra another 19 years to come back!

Classical Sounds Sunday 16th November 2014


On this weeks Classical Sounds which I present every Sunday on Claremorris Community Radio @ 3pm! I have music from little known but very tuneful English composer Christopher Ball. Also accidentally keeping an English theme I also play great music by Peter Maxwell Davis and Malcolm Arnold. Old favorite Mozart is in the mix too plus music Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach who Mozart said of “Bach is the father we are his children”. I  have also found a composer recently who was strangely known as the “Swedish Mozart” Joseph Martin Kraus His instrument of choice was the viola and i have chosen the second of the three he wrote for that instrument. Born the same year as Mozart and dying the year after him but his life was much different to the great man himself!

Hope you like the show and like this website. Thanks

Listen to latest programme below.

Classical Sounds Sunday 16 November 2014 by Claremorrisfm on Mixcloud



Spotify Playlist of music played on the Show

Classical Sounds Podcast Sunday 2nd November 2014


On this weeks Classical Sounds with Andrew Newman there’s music by Grieg, Giordani, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and even Nina Simone! Tune in every Sunday at 3 for the live show but if you miss that you can always get it here!

You can listen to just the music that I played on the embedded Spotify link or the entire show on the embedded Mixcloud link below.

Classical Sounds Sunday 2/11/2014 by Claremorrisfm on Mixcloud

Spotify Playlist of music played on the Show

Classical Sounds Sunday 19th October 2014


It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog, sorry about that ! Since my last post I’ve discovered some wonderful composers that I never managed to get to listen to but with the ease of use of Spotify and Google Music and others. It is so easy to find the particular composer that you happen to hear by chance and discover more of there music with ease and less expense of buying an old fashioned cd! Some of my favourites of late are George Onslow, William Alwyn, Andrzej Panufnik his daughter Roxanna Panufnik , Philip Sawyers and Christopher Ball to name just a few. I hope to play the above mentioned composers on my radio show which of course will be podcasted here.

On this weeks Classical Sounds  there’s old and new music  by JS Bach, William Walton, Mozart and more. I’ve music by one of my favourite composers of late Hans Gál which is about 30mins into the show. I’m featuring two Irish composers the familiar John Field and the contemporary composer John Kinsella. Plus a wonderful recent cello concerto by a composer who is not widely known to some music reviewers but who’s music can be quite tuneful he’s called Philip Sawyers.

You can listen to just the music that I played on the embedded spotify link or the entire show on the mixcloud link below.

Classical Sounds 19/10/14 by Claremorrisfm on Mixcloud

Spotify Playlist of music played on the Show

Classical Sounds for Sunday 27th July 2014


I’ll start with some exciting news, I’ve been nominated for an award for this blog site from Blog Awards Ireland in the best music category. It’s in the long list stage yet but fingers crossed I’ll make it the short list!

On this weeks Classical Sounds with Andrew Newman I’ve something old by Beethoven, something retentively new with music by Ola GjeiloHe is a US based Norwegian composer who seems to concentrate on choral music which is very approachable and melodic.  I’m continuing to discover the great music of Hans Gál, a short fugue written when he was in his 90th year! For you Gálites out there it’s about 25 minutes into the show.

This was first broadcast on Claremorris Community Radio on Sunday 27th July 2014.

Classical Sounds 27/07/14 by Claremorrisfm on Mixcloud

Here is also the Spotify playlist of the show for some unknown reason I couldn’t put  a track list on Mixcloud.

Spotify Playlist of music played on the Show

Classical Sounds Podcast for Tuesday 17th June 2014


 On this weeks Classical Sounds with Andrew Newman, I have another gem from Hans Gál, the Austrian born composer who lived the majority of his life in Scotland. This time with his Concertino for violin and strings. Also music by Vivaldi, Mozart, Lehár, Beethoven and more. Enjoy !

This programme was broadcast on Claremorris Community Radio on Tuesday 17th June 2014.

Classical Sounds Tuesday 16th June 2014 by Claremorrisfm on Mixcloud

Spotify Playlist of music played on the Show

Classical Sounds Podcast for Sunday 8th June 2014


On this weeks Classical Sounds, I’ve a mixed bag of music. Starting with music originally written for piano by Edvard Grieg, then Handel, Carl Orff, Copland, Mozart and more besides. Listening back to it I notice i seem to be in a rush for no particular reason during the show,I don’t know why! I hope you enjoy the music anyway. :D

This programme was broadcast on Claremorris Community Radio on Sunday 8th June 2014.

Classical Sounds Sunday 8th June 2014 by Claremorrisfm on Mixcloud

Spotify Playlist of music played on the Show

Classical Sounds Podcast for Sunday 25th May 2014

On this weeks Classical Sounds blog there is a slight change, you probably notice that there is no option to download the show, it will be streamed only from now on, on CCR’s Mixcloud webpage . I hope you don’t mind :)

This programme was broadcast on Claremorris Community Radio on Sunday 25th May .

Classical Sounds – May 27th by Claremorrisfm on Mixcloud

On this week’s show I thought I’d play actual popular classical music for a change with 2 slight exceptions, the first being the Double Violin concerto by Bach, and the second being music by a Viennese born composer called Hans Gál , whose music I’m a little obsessed with lately!

Add a comment below if you’d like to hear other obscure music.

Spotify Playlist of music played on the Show

Classical Sounds Podcast for Sunday 11th May 2014


On this weeks Classical Sounds programme I’ve music by which range from the early baroque to almost contemporary . Starting with with music by CPE Bach the second son of the great JS Bach and also a great composer in his own right. I’ve been listening to a lot of music by the Bach sons of late and you probably will be hearing more of their music over the next few weeks! Also music by Haydn which i reviewed in my previous post. The very young Mozart also appears with music written when he was 11!

This programme was broadcast on Claremorris Community Radio on 11/5/14

Direct link to the podcast

Podcast RSS feed

Spotify Playlist

Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Sir Simon Rattle NCH Dublin 4/5/14


The Creation – Joseph Haydn

Before I begin a little explanation about the musical terminology I may use here occasionally . Every time you see a word in red, you can click on it to get and explanation of what it means hopefully this will be helpful to you while reading this review.

If you have been following my blog you may have noticed I haven’t been to any concerts lately, I missed 2 in the last month alone! But last Sunday night I finally got a chance to see Sir Simon Rattle conducting a period instrument orchestra,  The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment  and their 34 strong choir. They were doing a very mini tour indeed, just Dublin and on Tuesday 6th London with the wonderful music Joseph Haydn and his oratorio  The Creation.

While in London in the early 1790′s Haydn heard a few of Handel’s oratorio’s so he decided to write one of his own. Written between 1796-98 Haydn takes his words from Book of Genesis and Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. It’s certainly one of his greatest masterpieces of his late period. I  must admit I never listened to this music until a week before the concert, and hearing it live was a totally different experience than listening to a recording.

This is my third time seeing Mr. Rattle and second time the OAE, my last time with him also 2 years ago with Haydn and also Mozart. This time I wondered would I lose concentration during the work, but the way Rattle conducted the music the audience me included,were tranfixed from beginning to end!

It was a very packed stage with 3 soloists; soprano, tenor and bass. The 34 voice choir just about squeezed into the back, the orchestra was pretty large for the standards of the time with trombones, french horns and a very large countrabassoon!

As I said above there were three soloists : Sally Matthews soprano, who was a late substitute for another soprano who fell ill. She looked nervous, constantly reading the music when not singing but when she did she sang very well, with a clear tone her enunciation was not as clear as the others but her singing made up for it. John Mark Ainsley, a lyric tenor had a expressive voice which never strained too much. The star of the night for me was the bass Peter Rose , particularly good at enunciation. Soft and gentle one moment, loud and forceful in others but best moments were when he was describing the worm with a very low D! Also his love duet with Sally Matthews in the third section somewhat similar to Mozart. I know I have mentioned enunciation a few times here I had no problem in understanding what they were singing compared to some recordings I’ve heard.

We here in Ireland never have the pleasure of hearing a period instrument orchestra of the size playing such great skill and speed when needed and soft subtlety  also. The choir were the best choir I’ve heard there in a long time defying the size of only 34 singers. And of course it was all sown together by the brilliant conducting of Mr. Rattle!

All in all a great night, two observations that I made though, firstly during the first soprano solo audience members were coughing at a very quiet moment a bit too loudly, the maestro turned around to the audience and gave a fleeting glance of disapproval, and after that there was hardly a sound! At the end when everybody was giving a standing ovation the people next to me refused to get up and join in because there perceived notion that the woodwind made a blaring mistake in the first half? I encouraged them to get up to which they did!

Final thought, this concert stands up at the very top tier that I’ve been to over the years, Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic,  Riccardo Chailly + Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Below is a very short video of the well deserved applause at the end.