CONCERT REVIEW – Bach Canata 147, Haydn: Nelson Mass, Haydn: Trumpet Concerto

Saturday 10 November 2012 – York Minster
Review by Martin Dreyer

YMS is on a roll.Its conductor, David Pipe, appointed only this year, is talented, genial and keen. A recruitment drive has introduced youthful new blood, particularly into the soprano ranks. Why then was this programme of Bach and Haydn less than the sum of its parts? It takes a particular type of courage to start an evening with one of Bach’s most unforgiving choruses. The fame of his Cantata 147, written for a May 31 feast day, rests on its chorales, set in English as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (but sung in German here). The choir’s mettle was severely tested by the opening. It was far from a disaster, but it lacked the clean edge of confidence. The chorales, however, were a pleasure. Only one of the four soloists, contralto Catherine Griffiths, had the measure of their role. Her composure in aria and arioso, both beautifully buoyed by oboes, was exemplary. Haydn’s ‘‘Nelson’’ mass had a much better feel. With the orchestra sustaining a seamless underlay, the choir’s attacks were bold and focused. The quiet start of the Sanctus was especially effective. Rebecca Hodgetts revealed a bright soprano, but it needed straighter tone and more flexible coloratura. No doubt the tenor and bass are excellent choralists, but as soloists they were out of their depth here. In between, Richard Blake was the assertive trumpeter in Haydn’s concerto. His cadenza was sensibly spacious in this acoustic and his long lines in the slow movement were impressive.

Reproduced by kind permission of the York Evening Press – www.thepress.co.uk