November 12th 2016

St Margaret’s  Church, Ilkley

Verdi & Faure

On a poignant Remembrance weekend, the choice of music for the concert between Ilkley and Otley Choral Societies was very fitting - a Requiem and a romantic piece by Gabriel Fauré, a moving organ solo by César Franck and Four Sacred Pieces by Giuseppe Verdi.

The Requiem started with the moving Introit et Kyrie, the multiple voices contrasting perfectly between the quiet, dark phrases and the enlightening passages. Within the Offertoire, the 100-strong choir produced a beautifully layered recital alongside baritone soloist, Dominic Rose (Choir of Leeds Cathedral). The triumphant "Hosanna in excelsis" signals the climax of the work and the voices rose to the occasion collectively.

12 year old treble soloist, Dane Aguete (Choir of Leeds Cathedral) gave a flawless performance of Pie Jesu. Choir and accompanying organ achieved excellent interpretations of Agnus Dei and Libera me, the latter including the emotive "Dies irae" from the full choir.

In the final section, In Paradisum, the organ and choir matched each other perfectly to give a suitable conclusion to the work, ending quietly as befitting a Requiem.

In the second item, Cantique de Jean Racine, the Musical Director, Barry Jordan, conducted a very well-balanced performance of this well-known piece. Sung entirely in French, the elegant surroundings of St Margaret's Church, Ilkley, were filled with the wonderful melodies produced by the choir.

Resident organist and Director of Music at St Margaret's, Christopher Rathbone (accompanist for the whole concert), completed the first half with an organ solo, Pièce Héroïque in B minor by Franck, a wonderfully crafted composition which matched the tone of the evening excellently.

For the second half, the choir undertook an accomplished performance of Four Sacred Pieces by Giuseppe Verdi - a very technically challenging work in itself. Within the Stabat Mater, the choir commenced with a confident start, evolving into a stunning, thoughtful performance. The Gregorian style of the Te Deum, sung by lower voices and punctuated by the upper voices throughout, was expertly produced. The triumphant final section which dies away to a peaceful end, was a suitable finale to a moving concert.

Andrew Atkinson

Ilkley Gazette 17 November 2016