Barry Douglas Praises Waterfront Russian Philharmonic Season

Philip Hammond talks Russian orchestras and festivals with the classical pianist

At last! The Waterfront Hall is making an effort to do something interesting in the field of classical music by promoting, in the coming months, a series of international visiting orchestras.

The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra are all coming to town between this October and May next year. And it’s not before time.

How appropriate it is to have a great musician from Northern Ireland appearing in the first of these musical offerings. Pianist Barry Douglas will be soloist in Rakhmaninov’s First Piano Concerto with the Moscow Phil on October 6.


‘I’ve been playing with the Moscow Philharmonic for 25 years now,' says Douglas in the podcast above. 'It’s one of the best Russian orchestras. It will be amazing.’ Particularly, Douglas claims, because there is nothing to beat hearing a Russian orchestra playing Russian music. It gives a completely unique sound.

‘Their instruments are totally different, you see,’ Douglas explains enthusiastically. 'Their wind instruments are totally different and bring that colour, that silvery, glassy, brassy sound.’

Douglas is also looking forward to playing Rakhmaninov’s First Piano Concerto, despite the fact that it tends to be viewed as one of the composer's less popular works. ‘Each page, as it unfolds, uncovers something else. It is a real gem.’

Douglas is not an easy person to tie down for interviews, as his schedule is, to say the least, full. Only the week before CultureNorthernIreland tracked him down for 10 minutes, Douglas had been at the 9th Clandeboye Music Festival. Founded by Douglas, the festival is something that he considers very important.

He admits that classical music can sometimes have a stuffy reputation – ‘them and us’ – but insists that the Clandeboye Festival isn’t like that. ‘Everyone just mucks in. The audience mills around with the artists and the young musicians have breakfast lunch and dinner with everyone else.'

Listen to Douglas talk more about the upcoming Moscow Philharmonic concert, and also about some of the other major musical focuses of his career, in conversation with Philip Hammond. The podcast features pieces of Beethoven’s 'First Piano Concerto', which Barry Douglas and Camerata Ireland released.

Book tickets to Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra Classics through the Seasons International Orchestral Series here.