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Glorious, Unforgettable

Haydn Anniversary Concert

Wakefield Cathedral

Saturday June 13 2009

THERE are routine concerts and recitals, some of which are readily forgettable, but the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir’s performance of four Haydn masterpieces to mark the bicentenary of the composer’s death was nothing less than a true musical extravaganza that is sure to live on in the memory of those who experienced it.

The first half of the evening was devoted to the inspired Maria Theresa Mass which allowed the choir, despite the complexities of the score and the changes of dynamics within it, to give full voice to the intensity of Haydn’s music. Superb soloists Alistair Ollerenshaw (bass), Simon Allatt (tenor), Melissa Lunn (mezzo), and Lucy Morton (soprano) underlined the operatic style of the mass with consummate technical skill. Their deeply entreating ‘miserere nobis’ of the Gloria and ‘dona nobis pacem’ of the keychanging Agnus Dei were heart-felt expressions of man’s inherent need of divine help.

Both in the short C major Te Deum and the offertory Insanae Et Vanae Curae the choir fully exploited the opportunities to show its varying vocal colours with sections of pronounced musical contrast which ranged from dynamism to lyricism. With a seamless blend of voices the choir produced glorious, uplifting harmonies, and its vocal power almost raised the roof in the fugal climax of the former work.

Soloist Huw Morgan thrilled the audience with a masterful performance of Haydn’s E flat Trumpet Concerto. His freshness and lightness of tone, especially in the final captivating rondo, were marked features of his virtuosity.

Haydn may well have died 200 years ago but can we really call a composer dead when his music lives on to uplift the spirit and touch the lives of generations across the centuries? The Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir together with the excellent Amici Ensemble, organ accompanist Thomas Moore and guest soloists under the authoritative baton of maestro Andrew Padmore combined to bring Haydn’s music to life with great drama and sensitivity. The rapturous applause and even boot-stamping heard at the end were highly eloquent of the audience’s unbridled delight.


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