sun 19/09/2021

theartsdesk at the Ryedale Festival 2021 - music returns to the moors | reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk at the Ryedale Festival 2021 - music returns to the moors

theartsdesk at the Ryedale Festival 2021 - music returns to the moors

A host of musical delights in the Yorkshire countryside

Tenebrae: innovative use of spaceSim Cannety-Clarke

In its 40th anniversary year, the Ryedale Festival once again brought live music of the highest quality to the beautiful villages and venues of the Yorkshire Moors. Reinvented for the current climate, the festival featured 40 events to mark its 40 years, with shorter concerts, and multiple performances to enable as many people to attend events with smaller audiences.

The stunning Ampleforth Abbey – home to a community of Benedictine monks – was the perfect location for Tenebrae’s “Spanish Glories'' concert – a performance of Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Requiem Mass, preceded by two shorter Spanish Renaissance works. Alonso Lobo’s Versa est in luctum was still and calming, the choir displaying a sublime blend and singing with clear, straight tones. Gregorio Allegri’s "Miserere mei, Deus", a setting of psalm 51 for double choir, saw Tenebrae make innovative use of the space, the two choirs standing back-to-back around the central altar. The building’s acoustic was perfect, certainly from the nave of the abbey, with both choirs clearly audible. The notorious high Cs sung by the first soprano in the second choir are apparently from a transcription made by Mendelssohn in the 1800s, a small section of which accidentally made it into the first edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and has since become the standard version of this work which is performed today. Well, in that case, Thursday’s audience owe a debt of gratitude to whichever editor made that mistake, as the stratospheric soprano line soared beautifully through the abbey.

Moving on to Victoria’s Requiem, the mass had a strong opening, the passages of unison plainchant very stable and synchronised. The layering in the "Agnus Dei" was particularly lovely, before a strident "Dies Irae", under the clear direction of conductor Nigel Short.

Friday was the festival’s Young Artists Day, which featured two intimate recitals by rising stars of the classical music scene in All Saints’ Church in the tiny village of Hovingham. Mishka Rushdie Momen (pictured below by Benjamin Ealovega), a pianist who was the 2021 classical music nominee for the Times Breakthrough Award at the Sky Arts Awards, and made her Wigmore Hall solo debut earlier this year, showed an innate musical sensibility combined with true technical brilliance. Opening with Bach’s simple Prelude in C major, she played with a delicate, clear tone, but displayed her real artistry in the fugue as she brilliantly illuminated each voice. Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor was vividly dramatic, as Rushdie Momen drew the audience in to the many moods of the piece, while Robert Schumann’s Variations on a theme by Clara Wieck (later to become Clara Schumann) had a gentle purity to its lush romanticism. 

To end the recital Rushdie Momen went straight from Ligeti’s Étude no 10: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, to Schubert’s Wanderer Fantaisie. She likened the former to a glass of champagne, and indeed this pithy little piece sparkled and bubbled with an ebullient flow. Her virtuosity was best displayed in the Schubert, though, as she took the music seamlessly from fiery potency to dreamy tranquillity. Her feathery touches in the upper registers in the third presto movement led way to a strong, strident fugue passage in the final allegro

The second young artist recital was given by violinist Charlotte Saluste-Bridoux and pianist Ljubica Stojanovic, both of whom are completing postgraduate studies, Saluste-Bridoux at the Royal College of Music and Stojanovic at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. Opening with a work for solo scordatura violin, Saluste-Bridoux played Ignaz Franz Biber’s Passacaglia in G minor with a raw, heartfelt tone and deft, delicate ornamentation. Schubert’s Fantaisie in C major for violin and piano saw Stojanovic give a soft, quivering quality to the opening bars in the piano part, before adding passion and power to the more florid final section. 

The recital ended with Brahms’s First Violin Sonata, where the composer quotes his earlier work "Regenlied" (rain song), which was only too appropriate for the weather outside. The violin’s soft pizzicatos in the first movement were reminiscent of summer raindrops, and Saluste-Bridoux's tender double stopping in the second movement were beautifully matched with Stojanovic’s deep, dark hues from the keyboard. The final movement saw more of Saluste-Bridoux’s impassioned playing paired with an ardent drive from Stojanovic on the piano, before both musicians brought the piece to a calming and soothing end, like the sun shining through at the end of a rainshower. 

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