REVIEW: St Cecilia Concert at Holy Trinity, Ripon

A cold, wet and windy evening did not deter St Cecilia’s devoted followers: and what a treat was in store.

Respighi’s The Birds was perhaps a little earthbound and  did not immediately take flight, but Puccini’s rarely  Crisantemi was a gem.

The haunting elegiac theme, written in memory of his friend the Duke of Aosta, was performed exquisitely by the orchestra. The piece deserves much wider recognition.

One of the evening’s two highlights followed; Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G major.

Without conductor, soloist Katie Stables was the central figure, facing the audience directly, a configuration that worked well, the mellow tones of her instrument filling the auditorium.

The largo and andante movements were wonderfully expressive and in pleasing contrast  to the virtuoso demands of the allegro and presto. Katie is an exceptionally talented musician and this performance was a delight.

Post-interval, yet another treat was in store. Adam Powell was the soloist in Poulenc’s Flute Sonata. It is thought that the composer may have intended the piece to be a concerto, but never found the time to orchestrate it.

Fortunately Lennox Berkeley did. A brilliant showpiece, it revealed Adam’s virtuosity to the full. The allegro and cantilena were full of grace and charm. The last movement, presto giocoso, was breathtaking.

Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin rounded off the evening in fine style. Under conductor Xenophon Kelsey, the orchestra was in top form.

Written as homage to friends killed in the First World War, the  nuanced performance captured both the  high spirits and underlying sadness of the time.

A special mention must be made of principal oboe Alexia Owens.

Her virtuoso playing in the prelude was outstanding. Another first rate concert from Ripon’s own orchestra.

The audience loved it. Ros Clayton

Adam Powell
Katie Stables