Press review

Leeds Town Hall, 21st November 2015:

This concert was like a long clean drink or fulsome meal. It was nourishing and satisfying.

Splendente te, Deus is our starter, seemingly short and slightly inconsequential, but nevertheless pleasing. Bright, major key, a song of praise, the harmonic language is simple and the temperament young and optimistic. Certainly moments of melodic beauty from the soloists and the choir already asserting themselves with crisp, nicely phrased delivery, sensitizing us for what is to come – in short, our palettes are cleansed, and we are ready for food. A perfect aperitif.

Symphony No 40 does not disappoint. Already in the minor key, we have another dimension of the great Mozart, as he draws us into the pervading pathos yet lyrical sweetness of this work. It becomes evident that the conductor, Grant Llewellyn, is completely at home as he draws out the clarity of the orchestral lines and delicate conversations from the orchestra.

This is Mozart at his height of maturity, but the third movement on this occasion, Allegretto/Minuetto and Trio, was particularly exquisite in its one-in-a-bar elegant tempo, harmonic shifts and orchestral colour.  Manchester Camerata is glowing in their responsiveness to this wonderful work.

And so we come to The Requiem. Words cannot describe the intensity and gravity of the Introit – especially as it leads into the Kyrie which ends on the somehow eternal quality of the last chord that is an open-fifth and glorious.

This was the last part that was fully composed and scored by Mozart before his death, and though there were clear sketches that guided its completion, it’s interesting that Sussmayer felt compelled to come back to the Kyrie music and the open chord to complete the work. It may be a romantic notion but, just like The Tempest for Shakespeare, there seems an awesomeness to the final creative moment when we have witnessed genius.

There are four very accomplished soloists. Very well balanced in that none of them are lightweight; from Stephan Loges’ dark and rich bass sound to the dramatic and bright tenor of John Daszak and the beautifully rich and well-phrased delivery of the mezzo-soprano in Catherine Wyn-Rogers to the powerful and rounded soprano tones of Rebecca Evans. All the soloists are able to take us to the depth and power of this work, yet with subtlety and sensitivity that is so characteristic of this final work.

The final word on this occasion, however, must go to Leeds Philharmonic Choir. Slightly low in numbers, especially in the men on this occasion, they are nevertheless, yet again, on tremendous form. They are powerful and sonorous in the moments of concerted delivery as well as precise and well phrased in the more exposed sections.

Their chorus master, Richard Wilberforce, has done such an excellent work with this choir in a relatively short time, and it beholds those that can sing in Leeds to expand its numbers and enjoy top class musicianship. They provide a good meal.

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Grant Llewellyn

David Gann
The Reviews Hub, Yorkshire & North East

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