IKON OF ST HILDA
by Roderic Dunnett
There's something very special and invigorating about the Wakefield sound.
It was true of earlier discs made by the boys' choir, conducted by Jonathan
Bielby - a pupil of both Bernard Rose and George Guest - in particular their
recording of Music for the Holy Communion (Harwood, Ireland, Leighton etc,
Priory PRCD 341), whose virile, St John's-derived tone rendered it, for
me, one of the most stirring liturgical recordings in the current cathedral
Over recent years Wakefield - second only to Salisbury - has developed
a parallel girls' choir, under the direction of its able assistant organist,
Louise Marsh. What she has inspired is something out of this world, as their
new record, Ikon of St Hilda, instantly demonstrates. It puts one
in mind of the top-rank, gutsy, professional-standard girls' choirs of Sweden,
who were pioneering this tradition long before the UK and others caught
This Wakefield 20th century music disc takes its title - as you might
guess - from a recent piece by John Tavener, specially commissioned in l998
and celebrating (in Mother Thekla's words) Hilda, the Abbess of Whitby.
The girls bring more spike and energy to Tavener than many a limpid adult
or boys' choir; and Gorecki's sumptuous Totus Tuus, likewise, acquires
an attractive cutting edge.
Copyright © 29 July 2000
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
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