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'Yorkshire Voices' admirably rise to the challenge of Missa Solemnis



Beethoven’ s Missa Solemnis is a big sing for any choral society but the combined forces of Harrogate Choral Society and Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir rose to the challenge admirably with their performance in Leeds Town Hall last Saturday, June 11th. Andrew Padmore, their conductor, had prepared both choirs thoroughly both technically and musically with confident entries and the high tessitura and full sound required for much of the work was achieved well and without loss of tuning or vocal tiring for much of the evening. The attention to the dynamic shaping was impressive with such large forces, maintaining a buoyant tone quality and with the changes in pace mostly secure with clear direction from the conductor. The articulation of the fugal section in the second movement was particularly well observed, rhythmical and clear. The orchestra, Manchester Camerata, supported the singing with fine phrasing throughout and particularly lovely violin solo playing by Caroline Pether in the Benedictus. The balance between orchestra and choir was for the most part, well matched, and it was only in the very loudest moments when the organ and orchestra were together that the choir became a little overpowered.

Of the soloists, Sarah Fox (soprano) floated her voice in the upper register with ease, Melanie Marshall (Mezzo) gave us a warm toned and fluid line throughout, and the bass, David Soar, some dark and sonorous sounds. The tenor soloist, Ben Thapa, sang with some full tone if a rather uneven line.

The concert began with a performance of Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No.1with expressively shaped playing by Manchester Camerata and a particularly controlled and warm toned slow section in all the orchestra. Andrew Padmore was clear in direction in his handling of the variations in the pace. The concert ended with a performance of a movement from Brahms’ Requiem with again, a flowing legato by both orchestra and choir with expressive tone colour but with just a hint of a little tiring after such a long sustained sing for the choir. The text in both the Beethoven and the Brahms could just have benefitted from a little more weight of the consonants.

A fine evening of excellent music making. Congratulations to all.

Dr. Vivien Pike

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