An ‘explosion of talent’ as Callino Quartet team up with Ailish Tynan

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

Soprano Ailish Tynan: performing Schoenberg's Quartet No.2 for string quartet and soprano, with the Callino Quartet in the Lime Tree on April 16
SOPRANO Ailish Tynan is such a bubbly personality that you can scarcely believe her claim that she can be “a psychotic individual onstage” when performing.

SOPRANO Ailish Tynan is such a bubbly personality that you can scarcely believe her claim that she can be “a psychotic individual onstage” when performing.

The singer, a Rosenblatt Recital Prize winner and a leading singer on the world stage who regularly performs in Wigmore Hall, in Covent Garden and the Royal Festival Hall, is coming to the Lime Tree Theatre with the renowned Callino Quartet next week.

She will perform Schoenberg’s Quartet No.2 for string quartet and soprano, a piece that changed music forever and caused consternation on its first performance in Vienna in December 1908.

The music, a classical expression of the composer’s deep rooted anguish, borne from first his wife having an affair and then the subsequent suicide of her lover - his friend - changed music irrevocably in the following 20th century, beginning what has been called “the tyranny of atonality”, ultimately developing a new musical language.

“This was a whole new departure in music. Up until this, people had been writing music that made lovely sense and had melodies and made perfect sense to the ear. Suddenly Schoenberg comes along and he is writing what people in those days would have called a load of crap,” laughs Ailish, originally from Mullingar, but stationed in London for the last 15 years, where she has carved out a vastly impressive career.

“They were booing at the premiere of this - it was so out there,” she says.

“They couldn’t believe their ears, and when the singer joined in, in the third movement - the first two movements are just the string quartet - this was the first time in history a singer had ever been involved in a string quartet so people found this very difficult to take - it was revolutionary.

“They were shouting ‘stop singing’ - I hope there will be none of that in Limerick,” she laughs.

Tynan was the one who steered the Callino - think of the Irish word cailin - Quartet toward the piece, which Tynan calls “absolutely the maddest thing I have ever heard in my life”.

“It pushes you to the very extremes. So you can kind of be a bit like a psychotic individual onstage, which suits me,” she laughs.

“We have only actually done one concert together, this is a whole new venture for us,” she says of the quartet, founded at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in 1999 and widely considered to be one of the finest ensembles to have emerged in recent years, performing with rock band Arcade Fire among many other luminaries.

“Sometimes that is a bit more exciting - they will be used to each other, they have been playing together for years, so it is nice to have a bit of fresh blood coming in.

“When I first started learning it, I was thinking - what is this, I don’t get this at all, and now I couldn’t get enough of it. It gets in on you and gets into the core of you and you feel like something. It is the whole rebirth of a different way of looking at music and you can feel that in it. I think from an audience point of view, I think I would probably like to have to a listen to it a couple of times - I think you will enjoy it more if you do.”

Tynan, who says she has “great affection for Limerick” having holidayed in Newmarket on Fergus as a child and returned for several performances with the ICO in latter years, says of the Callino, who will also perform pieces by Mozart, Haydn and Brahms: “Individually they are all fantastic players. In their own individual rights they are wonderful musicians, so when they come together as a quartet, it is like an explosion of talent.”

The Callino Quartet and Ailish Tynan play in the Lime Tree on April 16 at 8pm.