BEAUTIFUL Italian Renaissance and Baroque music for Passiontide illuminated this year’s traditional Good Friday Concert at Leeds Minster.

The St Peter’s Singers of Leeds took part in every Good Friday Concert from 1977-2019 under the direction of Dr Simon Lindley. Following Simon’s retirement as conductor of the Singers, the baton passed to Alex Woodrow. Like his distinguished predecessor, Alex combines this appointment with the coveted post of Master of the Music at Leeds Minster.

Good Friday’s programme of meditative music began with Antonio Lotti’s brief Crucifixus est pro Nobis (He was crucified for us). This lovely miniature prefaced two major settings of the Miserere mei, Deus (Have mercy upon me). The first of these, by Francesco Scarlatti (younger brother of the better known Alessandro) is scored for five-part chorus and five solo voices. Graham Thorpe, assistant director of music at Bradford Cathedral, accompanied on the Minster’s magnificent Harrison organ. Scarlatti’s lovely setting with its intricate baroque counterpoint and varied vocal writing for soloists, duets, trios, and full chorus is sadly all too rarely heard.

Gregorio Allegri’s setting of the identical text remains one of the worlds best known choral pieces. That instantly recognisable recurring phrase with a climactic top C was delivered with absolute precision by a solo quartet placed, for this work only, high up in the gallery.

The evening’s main course arrived in the form of the half-hour-long Stabat Mater Dolorosa (Blessed Mother bowed with grief appalling) by Domenico Scarlatti, son of Alessandro and, therefore, nephew of Francesco. The setting for ten-part choir was superbly realised by thirty eight singers with chamber organ and cello continuo, played respectively by Graham Thorpe and Sally Ladds.

Domenico Scarlatti’s complex choral writing was projected with clarity and a certain spontaneity. All bodes well for the St Peter’s Singers under their talented new conductor.

Geoffrey Mogridge