Guest Post: A Review of Ina Boyle’s Violin Concerto, at the Opera Theatre of the Sanremo Casino with the San Remo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maria Luisa Macellaro la Franca

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Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo

Direttore: Maria Luisa Macellaro

Violino solista: Razvan Stoica

Would Enniskerry born, Ina Boyle be surprised to hear her violin concerto being performed in Sanremo, on 7 March 2019, 86 years after it was composed, by a brilliant Romanian violinist with a first-rate symphony orchestra under the baton of a female conductor of boundless energy? No, and Yes. Ida Boyle had a highly developed sense of her mission as a composer and having lived for her music it was only proper that her music lived on for her. But the art nouveau Teatro del’ Opera del Casino di Sanremo, designed by the greatest of Italian playwrights of the 20th century, Luigi Pirandello, was the perfect setting for the European premiere of her violin concerto.

The concert celebrated not only Sanremo in fiore (the annual Festival of Flowers, dating from la Belle Époque) but also the eve of International Women’s Day and Ina Boyle’s 130th birthday. Mimosa and golden broom were in full bloom all over the open spaces of the town and surrounding countryside. Spring had arrived in one of the most favoured resorts on the Italian Riviera. Here in 1874 Tchaikovsky, as the guest of the Empress of Russia, finished his fourth symphony and the opera Eugene Onegin. The sun shone for him. As it also did for Edward Lear a few years later, when he escaped his reputation for comic verse to create marvellous landscape paintings of this region.

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The orchestra opened the programme with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ from the Nutcracker Suite. Aptly, not only for the floral theme, but also for the spirit of the dance in which joy is sometimes touched with a passing melancholy. More so with Ina Boyle’s work which was dedicated to the memory of her mother. There is both pain and joy in the finale of the concerto, although the duos between violin and timpani suggest ‘rest in peace, amen’.

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The soloist, Razvan Stoica, and the orchestra were directed with verve and sympathy by the conductor, Maria Luisa Macellaro. Boyle’s music soared, danced and sighed, with surprising changes of mood. The performance would have erased Ina’s disappointment when the BBC rehearsed the work in the 1930s but didn’t broadcast it. The audience were enthralled and clamoured for the encores which followed. First a virtuoso rendering of a Paganini caprice, so fast that Razvan Stoica seemed to play pizzicato and arco simultaneously on his 1729 Stradivarius. The second encore was a movement from a little-known Paganini violin concerto, arranged for orchestra by Maria Luisa Macellaro.

The second half of the concert, Stanford’s rousing ‘Irish’ symphony, was so exciting that some of the audience couldn’t resist applauding between movements. Maria Luisa Macellaro unleashed the orchestra to patriotic fervour with Moore’s Melodies ‘Remember the glories of Brien the brave’ and ‘Let Erin remember’. It was a fitting contrast to Ina Boyle’s more restrained expression. The effect perhaps represented the masculine and feminine in Irish music, with both composers finding their voice.

The concert overran by a good half-hour and ended too soon. The audience included three Irish supporters of Ina Boyle and her music. Afterwards, walking the fashionable streets of Sanremo, they noticed the number of chic shops displaying designer high-heeled shoes. It was a far cry from Ina Boyle’s wellington boots but she would have been walking on air.

James Hogan

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You can read more about Enniskerry born, Ina Boyle on Wikipedia HERE and her musical links with World War 1 HERE on this website ‘The History of the Grey Stones’.