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Reviews

Here are a few newspaper clips of what the critics say:

 

B Minor Mass - Leeds Minster, Good Friday 2014

JS Bach's monumental Mass in B minor was last performed here on this solemn day in 2008. The conductor, then as now, was Simon Lindley, director of music at Leeds Minster (formerly Leeds Parish Church) since 1975. Dr Lindley well understands the complex structure of this Mass, reckoned by some scholars to be the greatest single musical work - period. Lindley has a natural sense of tempo and flow. His ability to generate what at times seemed unstoppable rhythmic energy, combined with transparent instrumental and vocal textures, were the outstanding qualities of this performance.

The optimum scale of the forces of around 70 singers and instrumentalists created a well-nourished but always crisp and incisive sound. St Peter's Singers - the principals from each section shared the solos - and the National Festival Orchestra together conveyed the grandeur of the opening Kyrie and the radiance of the Sanctus. This was lifted on high by the tonal splendour of the Minster's grand organ played by David Houlder. The bass solo Quoniam was sung with great expression by Quentin Brown and accompanied by the dark sonorities of solo horn, obbligato bassoons and continuo. I have to say that the attack of the voices in the ensuing section of the Gloria almost lifted me out of my pew.

Bach's rich instrumental scoring of Et incarnus est was delicately played by the National Festival Orchestra. Sombre descending phrases of the Crucifixus were delivered by the choir with soul-piercing intensity. The glorious Osanna in excelsis embellished with trumpets and drums made the eyes prick. Lucy Appleyard's plangent solo which opened the Agnus Dei led into the impeccably balanced Dona nobis pacem for full choir, orchestra and organ - a heavenly conclusion to this great work.

Geoffrey Mogridge - Ilkley Gazette>

Sir Arthur Somervell: The Passion of Christ April 9 2014

TO FIND a performance of Sir Arthur Somervell's The Passion of Christ - a very serviceable, in fact rather sparky musical setting of the events of Holy Week - you have to look to those old reliables: Leeds Minster, and the St Peter's Singers who are associated with it, and who are nursed and conducted by the Minster's Director of Music, Simon Lindley.

If just occasionally their quality can waver, the Singers were on tip-top form for this performance of an undeservedly unusual work - one that caps even Leeds's readings of not only Stainer's The Crucifixion, but also Maunder's Olivet to Calvary, W. S. Lloyd-Webber's The Saviour (which the Minster choir have just reprised in Leeds Town Hall under David Houlder's direction), Charles Wood's The Passion according to St Mark, and others.

... Both choir and soloists made a fine start. The baritone who sang the part of Jesus (Quentin Brown) made a marked effect from the outset (though perhaps with a little too much vibrato later on), and the Evangelist (the tenor Christopher Trenholme) grew in beauty of tone and elegance of line as he advanced: his opening and follow-up in the Garden of Gethsemane section was especially pliant, the lines beautifully enjambed...

As Lindley and his attentive singers articulately and, indeed, excitingly proved, The Passion of Christ is a work not just of beauty - in its almost orchestral organ accompaniment, so notably performed (clarinet solo, use of woods and clear-voiced diapason or fluted chorus, vivid syncopations for the March at The Betrayal) by David Houlder - but in its overall cogency.

Roderic Dunnett, in the Church Times read the full review (subscription) here

... Relief from the solemnity of the drama came in the form of the Choral Meditations, sung by the chorus. Here, in these passages, which appeared regularly in each portion of the work, the St. Peter's Singers sonic luminosity shone with the fresh brilliance of spring. Words of praise and reflection resolved with yearning ecstasy...

Dan Potts, on Culture Vulture read the full review here

World War I Commemoration recital - Leeds Town Hall February 2014

...The Singers, conducted by the Minster's Director of Music, Simon Lindley, have shown a consistent flair for programming. Performed to a large and rapt lunchtime audience in Leeds Town Hall, their ample programme was not only a memorial to the fallen, but a reminder of top-rank music with Leeds connections.

...[In Bairstow's Lord, Thou hast been our refuge] Spiky, brassy chromatics from the organ (David Houlder) and a dynamic choral fugue ("Thou shalt arise . . .") added urgent tension; yet the choir's best moment was in the superlative Amen, where Lindley drew a warmth, expressiveness, and confidence excelling all that preceded

The St Peter's Singers achieved [in John Ireland's Greater Love] their glorious best: a maturer sound than at the outset, a sense of the profound, a wonderful top line for the searing, prophetic "Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15.13), and superb soprano and baritone solos (Julie Kilburn and Philip Wilcox).

No less imposing was the solo in Stanford's "For lo! I raise up" - one of those once-overlooked anthems championed by Donald Hunt at Leeds and now by Lindley, in which "I will stand upon my watch" was gorgeously and poignantly intoned by Kristina James (followed by the tenor Christopher Trenholme).

Roderic Dunnett, in the Church Times read the full review (subscription) here

Into the Light: Brahms Requiem and other sacred works (Good Friday 2013)

...Appropriately, Simon Lindley's powerfully structured reading of this great work favours fast tempi and strong dynamic contrasts.

This approach is highly effective, especially with such agile and meticulously tuned vocal forces as the St Peter's Singers of Leeds - forty superbly blended voices who illuminated every line of the Lutheran text.

The National Festival Orchestra, led by Sally Robinson, responded to Dr Lindley's conducting with playing of great conviction and expression, underpinned by the famous organ of Leeds Minster played by David Houlder.

Soprano soloist Kristina James sung Ye Now Have Sorrow with the ethereal beauty of a lark; baritone soloist Quentin Brown invested his lines with gravitas and humanity. Two early Brahms sacred songs opened the programme: Geistliches Lied, an ingenious double canon for four-part chorus, and the unaccompanied motet Warum ist das Licht gegeben.

Both were given performances of exemplary balance by Dr Lindley and his St Peter's Singers. the National Festival Orchestra and men's voices accompanied soloist Lucy Appleyard in the rarely performed Alto Rhapsody, an intensely personal outpouring of grief on the loss of Brahms' mother, here movingly sung with plangent tone and dark-hued colouring of the solo line.

Geoffrey Mogridge, of the Ilkley Gazette/Airedale and Wharfedale Observer read the full review here

 

It was an extremely moving concert. Clearly, the music was very well rehearsed, and highly polished, by soloists, organist and orchestra. There was much continuity throughout. Thematically the texts set and sung were related; and the music was composed with that angular fluidity typical of Brahms. We entered the sound world of Brahms and stayed there for a good two hours.... Brahms continually refreshed with shifting crispness. This felt like a highly appropriate sonic property when contemplating renewal.

... The choir began with mournful comfort leading to ecstatic outbursts. In the more soothing passages the choir against the orchestra was like crystal on velvet...

Daniel Potts of CultureVulture - read the full review here

Messiah - 2012

...'Dr Lindley has conducted Messiah on countless occasions over the past forty years and yet there is never the slightest hint of routine about his performances. This one sounded as fresh as if the ink had barely dried on Handel's manuscripts; Lindley infused the great choruses and the instrumentation with such clarity and vitality. Not for this conductor the turgid Messiahs of the mid-twentieth century - he takes the Hallelujah Chorus at a cracking pace - but crisp, airy textures with stresses on the words as close as possible to the composer's original intentions.

Lindley was well served by organist David Houlder, harpsichordist Alan Horsey, the National Festival Orchestra and the excellent St Peter's Singers - forty flexible and precisely tuned voices who made the English text speak directly to the audience. Sarah Potter, Lucy Appleyard, Paul Dutton, Quentin Brown and boy treble Cameron Stanley sang the solos with a heartfelt directness that was always profoundly moving. ...'

Geoffrey Mogridge, of the Ilkley Gazette/Airedale and Wharfedale Observer

 

B Minor Mass 2012

... 'What [Bach] produced was a monumental masterpiece and the St Peter's Singers and Chamber Orchestra did it full justice.

Inspired by Simon Lindley's animated, focused direction the responsive choir with their bright soprano tone and clear articulation were in fine voice.

The opening Kyrie was rich, purposeful and measured, the Gratias Tibi stately and controlled, the Qui Tollis subdued and penitent. The Cum Sancto Spiritu really rocked, the Credo a jaunty, confident affirmation of faith. The superbly sustained Sanctus swung along gloriously just as it should. The Et Resurrexit was an explosion of energy while the concluding Dona Nobis Pacem exuded a majestic serenity...'

Julia Anderson - in the Halifax Courier

B Minor Mass 2008

[Simon] Lindley's lightness of touch and his scrupulous attention to the textural contrasts between the movements were the conspicuous qualities of the evening...from the exhilarating power and majesty of the Gloria to the Credo's sublime Crucifixus and the electrifying release of energy in the ensuing Et resurrexit with the full-throated power and the bright, ringing tone of the St Peter's Singers and the high trumpets... Alto Kathryn Woodruff's solos were wonderfully imbued with humanity and tenderness

Geoffrey Mogridge, of the Ilkley Gazette/Airedale and Wharfedale Observer


'Messiah':

'[Simon Lindley's] Messiah was revelatory'

'an ego-less ensemble occasion...exquisitely musical'

'St.Peters Singers were faultless, immaculately balanced and effortlessly dexterous'

'Lindley revealed the chorus Since by man came death as the real core of the work performed magically by St Peter's Singers'

Chris Robins, Yorkshire Post

'Britten at St Cecilia's Tide': 

' ...the totally pleasing performance engendered by [Simon]Lindley...'

'Clear diction, good intonation and a nicely balanced quality were the hallmarks of the St Peter's Singers...'

'...the many solo parts demonstrated the depth of quality in the ensemble'

David Denton, Yorkshire Post

Leeds Bach Festival:

'For the St Peter's Singers, [the B-Minor Mass] is now a repertory work. With each performance they are more relaxed, enabling them to give added significance to each interpretative detail.'

'...the Singers' hushed, mystical intensity in Et expecto resurrectionem had a visionary quality...'

'His overall finely judged tempi was heard to particularly fine effect in the stately Sanctus...'

'a stunning account of Singet dem Herrn...'

Donald Webster, 'The Organ'

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