Review of concert in Hugh Lane Gallery 25 April 2010 by Michael Dungan, Irish Times (27 April).
A relaxed, almost casual delivery banished formality at the Hugh Lane Gallery, last stop in the Hunka and Dunne Duo’s six-concert Music Network tour. A well-balanced programme spanning the baroque to the contemporary was the platform for a chance to hear violinist Katherine Hunka, leader of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, in the more intimate setting of a recital. She was partnered by Dermot Dunne, Ireland’s leading accordion-player. Either they faked it brilliantly or they were having a lot of fun – lots of banter, an air of fin-de-tour, something that clearly appealed to the audience whose responses were lively. People laughed aloud, for example, in the baroque piece, Heinrich Biber’s Sonata Representativa which playfully mimics various bird songs (and a frog). No need for programme notes – the players called out each bird in advance, with Hunka combining nightingale songs or hen clucks with frantic accompanying figures.
The programme’s contemporary piece was Ronan Guilfoyle’s Binary Number, commissioned by Con Brio in Sligo and premiered in February. It’s an energetic, seven-minute piece, but the sum of its parts – a short jazz riff fastidiously fashioned into quasi-minimalist micro-motivic activity – was quite hard to discern.
Guilfoyle elected not to exploit the accordion’s special qualities aside from colour.
The folk and rustic associations of the accordion came nicely into play in selections from de Falla’s Spanish Folk Songs and Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, his own violin-piano versions of music from his ballet Pulcinella. All were character miniatures delivered with flair.
Listeners who know the bitter-sweet “Serenata” from the Stravinsky were likely sorry it was left out here, not least because of the contrast it provides with the faster pieces in the suite.
However, it was dropped to allow time for a few lollipops, in which there was considerable compensation, above all in Monti’s Czardas which was given with outrageous ham in the slow parts and at a thrilling, wicked pace in the fast ones.
The Irish Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - Michael Dervan
Dunne, ICO/Hunka RDS, Dublin
The Irish Chamber Orchestra’s programme at the RDS was like a large hamper of treats. Well, not quite. There was something that was supposed to be good for you in there, too. Aloys Fleischmann jostled for space along with two Vivaldi concertos, a string of pieces by the king of nuevo tango, Astor Piazzolla, Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik , and a showy accordion concerto by the little-known, near-contemporary of Mendelssohn, Bernhard Molique.
There was so much to go in the hamper that the lid couldn’t be forced to close (the programme was too long), and it was the celebration of the centenary of Cork’s most famous composer that got the chop, with Fleischmann’s suite, The Humours of Carolan , being reduced to a single movement.
That movement, Carolan’s Quarrel with the Landlady, was both scholarly and witty enough, and played in a manner both boisterous and svelte enough to make the dropping of the rest of the work seem shocking in the context of what was planned as a celebration.
Molique’s concerto, originally for concertina and arranged for accordion by Franz Krieg, presented the prospect of a large-toned string orchestra being outshone by a small-toned instrument, whose master, Dermot Dunne, played with breath-taking agility. The Molique, all froth and no substance, was balanced by the perfection of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik , which the orchestra’s leader, Katherine Hunka, directed with extrovert energy.
The second half of the programme interleaved delightfully sprung concertos by Vivaldi with five tangos by Piazzolla, from the stomping, slapping, slashing La Muerte del Angel to the sultry sensuality of Resurreccion del Angel. Piazzolla’s own loose-limbed, improvisatory style turned into something drilled when arranged for orchestra. But the ICO did the pieces with such style and panache that the audience demanded – and got – some more as an encore.
Irish Examiner - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - Declan Townsend
ICO/Dermot Dunne University of Limerick
The accent was on entertainment in this latest Irish Chamber Orchestra concert, directed by its leader, Katherine Hunka. The rapport between Hunka and the soloist, Dermot Dunne (accordion) and the rapport between them and the orchestra, in turn, led to lovely, sensitive, bright, enthusiastic playing that pleased all who heard it.
Music by Aloys Fleischmann (1910-1992), a too-rarely-heard masterpiece called Callolan’s Quarrel with the Landlady, opened the concert. This, the finale from his Humours of Carolan Suite for Strings, is a lesson in integrating an existing tune into art music. Brilliant, original counter-melodies and highly inventive counterpoint, allied to imaginative string textures, raise this music far above the level of arrangement. Reminiscent of Gustav Holst’s much-loved St.Paul Suite for String, it is perhaps, even more powerful.
Dermot Dunne gave a sensitive, delicate, occasionally mischievous, beautifully coloured performance of Bernhard Molique’s Concerto for Accordion and Strings, and the ICO ended the first half with a perfectly judged performance of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Music by Vivaldi and Piazzola completed the programme, giving Hunka and Dune wonderful opportunities to display their technical brilliance.