Pinsuti, A Rose Without Thorns

Hetton Methodist Church

AN audience of around 50 attended a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s music from this gifted and well-trained Ilkley and Skipton based choir of about 20 voices.

Most of Pinsuti’s work is a cappella, and this performance was no exception.

The opening work, Palestrina’s motet for double chorus Stabat Mater Dolorosa was beautifully performed, with perfect balance between the two sections of the choir.

This was followed by Taverner’s Mater Christi Sanctissima. Since Taverner was a near-contemporary of Palestrina, the religious context of the 16th century was maintained, but the programme was shared between religion and roses, between ancient and modern.

The choir moved effortlessly to Paul Mealor’s 21st century madrigal settings of four texts relating to roses.

The first of these is Tennyson’s sonnet Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal. The last of them, A Spotless Rose, provided a lyrical and interesting change from the often-performed, better-known and equally delightful Howells setting.

After the interval we were provided with works by Brahms, Bruckner and Tchaikovsky along with Bogoroditsye Dyevo from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers.

The evening was completed with Morten Lauridsen’s delightful Les Chansons des Roses.

This work is one of Lauridsen's song cycles, based on the French text of Rainer Maria Rilke.

A helpful translation included in the programme notes, although losing some of the poetic rhythm of the original, enhanced the audience’s appreciation of the music, and its accolade to the said roses.

Directed expertly as ever by Robert Webb, and assisted during the final work by Charles Dobson on piano, Pinsuti were at their best. Their diction, tonal clarity and balance were exemplary.

Their repertoire includes some very difficult works, which they master with apparent ease.

In the comfortable and intimate setting of Hetton Methodist Church they provided a most satisfying evening.

Phil Lawler