Sunday 25 April 1999 at Church of the Holy Ascension, Settle
The Concert comprised two strongly contrasting pieces: Faure's Requiem and Poulenc's Gloria, the latter being chosen to mark the centenary of Poulenc's birth. For those who have not heard Craven Camerata before the most immediate sensation is an awareness of the beauty and clarity of tone which they achieve. This was most noticeable in the second choir piece of the requiem where their voices melded together to produce a powerful and haunting lyricism.
Faure himself was somewhat unorthodox in his religious views and the requiem is therefore not typical of 19th Century church music in that it does not include any references to wrathful judgement and instead concentrates on creating a picture of tranquil deliverance beyond the grave.
This was certainly given full voice in the 'Sanctus' and the full richness of 'In Paradisum'. Their performance was heavenly, capturing the light and delicate balance of prayer and the powerful certainty of promised redemption.
Special mention must be made of the soprano soloist, Django Sankey, whose voice brought great beauty and clarity to the highly moving 'Pie Jesu'.
The second piece was in sharp contrast to the first and for many of the audience this was their first experience of Poulenc's Gloria. It had its debut performance in 1961 and while the quieter passages owe much to Faure's influence there are also many clues to other composers who influenced Poulenc, such as Stravinsky.
It is a lively and exuberant piece with many difficult and irregular rythms and discords. This being said it was performed with great gusto and tremendous skill by the choir, with outstanding solo performances by both Roger Attwood and Joyce Hartley.
The opening 'Gloria' was both rousing and joyous with the 'Laudamus' conveying a lively sense of urgency. This was followed by a soaring solo from Joyce Hartley who produced a magnificent performance of an extremely complex piece.
The 'Gloria' does however require a very skilful choir for it is a piece of great contrasts with sharp changes between the solemn and sonorous to the triumphant joyousness of the final movement and the closing reflective tone. It is therefore the more creditable that a group who performs together only twice a year can achieve such an amazingly high standard.
This however is a close knit and well rehearsed group, a fact which was reflected not only in their polished singing but also in the more impromptu performance of Happy Birthday, and their obvious sadness at the loss of two of their number.
Unfortunately this was the final concert for Roger Attwood, their baritone soloist and Laraine Attwood, their accompanist. Both Roger and Laraine have taken part in every concert and are now moving to Shropshire. However, thanks to Craven Camerata they will be taking a piece of Yorkshire with them, having been presented with a white rose tree to plant in their new garden.
The choir was conducted by Sheila Haywood and all funds raised from the evening will be divided between Settle Parish Church and the NCHT Historic Churches Fund.