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Choristers rise to an important occasion

YPC & Harrogate Choral Society – Yorkshire Voices.

Leeds Town Hall

Saturday June 7 2008

THE Verdi Requiem is a massive undertaking for any choir. On Saturday, June 6 the Harrogate Choral Society joined forces with the Wakefield based Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir and the Leeds Met Singers to give a performance of this great work at the Leeds Town Hall. And with what success!

The male voices benefited from the greater numbers enabling them, for once, to match the sopranos and altos.

The thunderous sounds of the Dies lrae stirred the well-filled hall, but no less impressive was the delicacy and precision of the quieter moments in the Libera Me and the interplay of the eight parts in the Hosannah.

These choristers rarely have the opportunity to sing with an orchestra of the first rank and they were particularly fortunate to have the Manchester Camerata in such splendid form.

The string playing excelled, most of all in the Lux aeterna where the soft shimming sounds so beautifully portray celestial serenity and, of course, who can resist the trumpet calls and the big bass drum as they summon up divine judgment!

The Requiem gives such prominence to the soloists and makes such vocal and dramatic demands on them, that it requires singers of international standing and, given the character of the work, prefer ably with operatic experience.

We were not to be disappointed. The tenor Bonaventura Bottone, a veteran of the English National Opera, sang eloquently with a true Italianate timbre; The warm bass voice of Ben Davies rolled out above the orchestra. And there was a spiritual quality in the performance of mezzo Gaynor Keeble, as she drew inspiration from the words, as well as the musical line.

Naomi Harvey, the soprano, was a late replacement for the indisposed Lynne Dawson and if she had difficulties projecting some of the lower lying recitative-like passages, she was able to spin out some exquisitely soft high notes, her voice melding well with those of the other soloists.

This performance was, above all, a triumph for the conductor Andrew Padmore.

Quite apart from the meticulous preparation of the choirs, his assured interpretation of the piece combined excitement with inner strength and calm reflection.

Anthony Ogus

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