Music in Monkstown – John O’Conor – Review


Music in Monkstown 9 – 11 September 2016 – Review by P McGovern

Most Dubliners know Monkstown Parish Church, an unmissable landmark on the village triangle.  What they may not know is that inside is a beautiful space, with a warm, clear acoustic, comfortable padded seats and plenty of leg room – all adding to the pleasure of concert-going . To this wonderful venue and accessible location add a programme of first-rate musicians and it is obvious why Music in Monkstown, now in its third year, is firmly established in the calendar of chamber music lovers.

This year’s festival opened last evening with a programme of Haydn and Beethoven piano sonatas with John O’Conor. His introductions to each piece were well judged: succinct, informative and personal, opening up the music a little more and adding to the audience’s enjoyment even of more familiar pieces.

The Haydn B minor sonata, No 32, with which the concert opened, is relatively unfamiliar. It moves from a delightful Allegro Moderato through a brief Menuet to an intense, agitated Finale and more than justified O’Conor’s claim that it is undeservedly overlooked.  Beethoven’s F minor, Op. 2, No. 1 brought the audience into more familiar territory and O’Conor onto his home ground.

The second half of the concert opened with Haydn’s F major, No 23, full of joy and happiness, especially in the Finale where bravura performance never unbalanced the architecture.  Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata Op. 27 No. 2 was substituted for the announced C major, Op 2 No 3. O’Conor seemed to take the opening movement just fractionally faster than usual, somehow integrating it more fully with the rest of the sonata. It was O’Conor at his most masterful. The first movement of Beethoven’s Pathétique was the perfect encore to a memorable concert. How about an annual O’Conor “Beethoven plus” concert to open Monkstown?

The festival continues this afternoon (Saturday) with Mairead Buicke, soprano and Anthony Byrne, piano, in a programme of Mozart, Puccini and Verdi heroines. This evening the Navarra String Quartet (with John Finucane, clarinet) present a concert of Mozart, Haydn and Dvorak. They return tomorrow (Sunday) evening, playing Schubert, Haydn and Saint-Saens, while tomorrow afternoon’s concert brings Renaissance Instrumental and Vocal music by Kitchen Zink, starting at 3. 30.  With ticket prices at half of what you’d pay at other venues for these artists, Music in Monkstown is one not to be missed.




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