Yorkshire Voices (YPC & Harrogate Choral Soc.)
Leeds Town Hall
Saturday June 7 2008
DESCRIBED by Brahms as ‘a work of genius’, Verdi’s Requiem is a sacred work which is often said to contain some of the loudest unamplified music ever written.
And there were times duri
ng last Saturday’s performance in Leeds Town Hall when I thought the beautifully ornate, vaulted ceiling of the capacious auditorium might be rent asunder in true biblical fashion by the titanic surges in volume projected by the musicians below.
This deeply moving yet stirring Requiem, amazingly written by an agnostic composer, is more dramatic than devotional, and more operatic than liturgical — features which were exploited to wonderful effect by the 300-strong Yorkshire Voices made up of Harrogate Choral Society and The Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir with Leeds Met Singers, accomplished soloists, and Manchester Camerata orchestra.
The orchestra’s timpanist Janet Fulton and percussionist Mike Harper were pivotal in their vigorous contributions to this musical drama staged between Heaven and Hell, and whether it was in the fiery dies irae, the elegiac lacrymosa, or the deeply entreating Libera Me, Naomi Harvey (soprano), Gaynor Keeble (mezzo soprano), Bonaventura Bottone (tenor), and Ben Davies (bass) lent finely-honed vocal expression to man’s plea to Omnipotence for salvation beyond death.
Conducted with great authority yet sensitivity by maestro Andrew Padmore, this immensely powerful performance of Verdi’s Requiem, perhaps more a mass for the living than the dead, was greeted on conclusion with sustained, rapturous applause and is sure to be remembered by the delighted audience as one of the high lights of the year’s musical calendar.