Sunday 29th April 2001, Church of the Holy Ascension, Settle
Te Deum MA Charpentier
Son of the Wondrous Vision Richard Leigh
Requiem Maurice Durufle
This concert by Sheila Haywood's Camerata offered a suitably wide range of musical experience to a large audience.
The Charpentier, well known to many from another context, was delivered with genuine muscularity by soloists and choir alike. In those sections where greater sensitivity was called for the conductor must have been delighted with the ability of her singers to shift emphasis and change to a different register. Both organ and choir made the most of Charpentier's style and polish, which in itself was in complete contrast to the century which spawned it, a century which possibly had suffered more misery than any before it. In that context the music was uplifting.
In totally different vein was the piece by Richard Leigh, conducted by the composer himself. The music was reflective, speculative and undogmatic, with one particularly finely sung tenor solo. The whole was intensely personal, taking us gently and without urgency into a world of contemplation. Some of the melodies were quite exquisite.
Finally it was left to Maurice Durufle' to bring us back to the reality of the contemporary world. Even though the text of the Mass takes us back over many ages and the haunting plainchant has obvious echoes of medieval times, this Requiem is firmly placed in the twentieth century at a time when the whole world has been at war with itself. Fear, anger, movement and change are all in evidence, as indeed is hope for the future. Durufle could hardly be described as a prolific composer; indeed he wrote very little that was performed. This work, nevertheless, stands out as a masterpiece. The Camerata coped with demanding music superbly on occasions and always competently. Perhaps the real zenith, however, was the Pie Jesu solo, sung with poignant feeling.
This annual event in the North Craven Heritage calendar came fully up to what has become our high expectation. Sheila Haywood and her choir, the soloists, Richard Leigh himself and David Butcher on the organ all deserve our thanks.