A Concert of English Music
for St Cecilia's Day
St Margaret's Church, Ilkley
Saturday 22nd November 2014
The imposing church on Queen's Road was well filled for this delightful song recital presented by the Ilkley born counter tenor Tristram Cooke, and friends. Tristram opened the programme with O Thou that tellest good tidings to Zion from Handel's Messiah. The musicality of this young artist and the timbre of his quite exceptional voice made an instantly compelling impression. The middle register is rich and creamy; his high Cs and Ds have a gleaming, trumpet-like quality.
Tristram followed Handel with two beautifully articulated songs by John Dowland: the pensive Flow my tears, and Awake, sweet love. The versatility of his voice was shown to menacing effect in Britten's I Know a bank where the wild thyme grows - Oberon's beguiling aria from the opera A Midsummer Night's Dream. Tristram's vocal gymnastics in Roger Quilter's delightful Love's Philosophy not surprisingly raised the roof at the end of the evening.
For the rest, the audience was treated to soprano Victoria Mulley's brush strokes of tone colour in Rejoice Greatly from Messiah, and Dido's Lament from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. Her pièce de resistance was a highly theatrical performance of The Hours Creep Apace - Josephine's operatic scena from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Tristram's elder brother, the tenor Tom Cooke, gave us heartfelt interpretations of Song of Shadows by Cecil Armstrong Gibbs and Ralph Vaughan Williams' familiar Linden Lea.
On the morning of the concert, the organisers learned that the accompanist was ill and therefore unable to take part. Christopher Rathbone, the director of music at St Margaret's, gallantly stepped in to the breach. Give or take a couple of minor alterations to the programme Mr Rathbone majestically accompanied the singers at the grand piano in the music originally scheduled. There was the added delight of Rathbone's own virtuosic and witty Jazz Variant on the well known hymn tune City of God which he played on the organ.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the evening was the convivial atmosphere engendered by friends together making music and communicating with their audience. All of the artists donated their services in support of Clic Sargent. The charity will receive the magnificent sum of £1850 as proceeds from the concert.
Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer
4th December 2014