Leeds Festival Chorus are one of the few big choirs who can sing an
unaccompanied contemporary piece and Beethoven's Mass in C on the same
night â" and do both with superb musicianship. They owe much to the
brilliance of their conductor Simon Wright.
They have the technique to tackle James Macmillan's intricate
eight-part antiphony in his setting of Pope John Paul II's poem
Invocation â" hummed chords and all â" and to tackle Beethoven's
full-bodied textures. And they have a full armoury of tone colours and
Macmillan's work captures the mystery of the Pope's poem in a style
which cleverly never moves towards musical resolution. By contrast,
Beethoven's Mass resolves each of its sections. But it is his least
convincing liturgical work although with occasional ingenious touches
such as the choral writing in the Lumen de lumine section of the Credo.