Review: Tristram Cooke and Graham Thorpe, Songs of Love and Art at St Margaret's, Ilkley on Friday, August 19, 2016

THE youthful artistic partnership of Ilkley born countertenor Tristram Cooke and pianist Graham Thorpe enthralled an appreciative audience at St Margaret's for this Ilkley Summer Festival lunchtime recital.

Love and Art formed the twin strands of a mouthwatering programme whose centrepiece was Schumann's beautiful Liederkreis, opus 39. This is a cycle of twelve settings of poems by Joseph von Eichendorff beginning with the introspective In der fremde (In a foreign land) and ending with the gleaming Fruhlingsnacht (Spring night). Cooke drew upon his considerable range of tone colours to project the texts and convey the cycle's rapidly shifting moods. Thorpe's wonderfully nuanced and responsive accompaniment was always in perfect accord with Cooke's subtly hued projection of Eichendorff's lines.

Following a brief pause, the recital resumed with a selection of settings by Delius, Chausson, Debussy, Hugo Wolf, Roger Quilter and Richard Strauss. Voice and piano were both exquisitely shaded in Delius's The Nightingale and Chausson's Le Colibri (the Humming Bird). Quilter's calm and reflective Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal was followed by his bright and optimistic Love's Philosophy which culminated in the countertenor's clarion top F sharp. The quality of stillness achieved in one of Richard Strauss's best known settings Morgen (Tomorrow) concluded the official programme. In response to prolonged applause, Cooke and Thorpe ended their superlative recital with William Butler Yeats' The Cloths of Heaven perfectly set for voice and piano by Thomas Dunhill.

by Geoffrey Mogridge