This letter was sent out to all members in December 2020

Dear Members and Friends,

As we approach Christmas, we hope that those of you who were able to listen to Rachel Podger and Voces8 The Guardian Angel found it a wonderful prelude to the festive season.  It is a real shame we could not have enjoyed it live next January, as originally planned.  A number of you have contacted us to find out if this concert could be shared with friends.  The answer is that you cannot, using our recording.  A condition of the contract is that the recording was only available for a limited time to our members. However, it is possible to purchase via  Many artists, in trying to achieve a sustainable living, have been inventive and Voces8 have successfully done this with their Live from London Christmas festival – it could make a rather lovely present.

We know many of you have watched and enjoyed the experience of all or some of the four concerts via Ilkley Chamber Music Online. The feedback has been very encouraging, and broadly in line with those of one member, who commented: ‘whilst they were not quite like live concerts, they really helped us during these increasingly dark days and the Ilkley-specific introductions to each concert were a nice and appreciated touch’.

The member’s suggestion that, given the difficult times still being experienced by many musicians, we should give a donation option on the web page for Help Musicians has been responded to in a very pleasing way by so many.  Since May, our Club members have donated £1,473 (£1,760 incl. gift aid) of which £848 (£1,000 incl. gift aid) has been donated during the online series of podcasts.

February and March 2021

The news from the King’s Hall is that it is not planning to reopen its doors until March/April at the earliest, and then with only a capacity of 250 or so, but with the possibility of having more than one short concert a day. We, therefore, have no alternative but to extend our concert postponements to the February and March concerts.

Remaining 2020/2021 Season

The concerts in April and May are going to prove more complex for us if the King’s Hall is open for business.  They each involve a large number of artists, hence practicalities such as the impacts on members and public attendance; and financial aspects will have to be considered very carefully.  The Committee plan to meet in January to consult about what we are able to do for the rest of the 2020/21 season.  We will advise you as and when plans are established.

This is our last newsletter in 2020, a year that will be memorable for so many reasons.  We were sad that our celebratory 75th Season could not take place. However, the generosity of spirit shown by audiences attending streamed music or socially distanced concerts in response to the creative innovation from artists, agents and venues is inspiring.  We hope that 2021 will see the return of live music to the King’s Hall as soon as practical and that we can gather as friends to enjoy amazing music.

In the meantime, please have a very Happy Christmas holiday.


Ilkley Concert Club

Recommended Listening

Natalie Clein and Katya Apekisheva should have played for us earlier in December.  The programme included the Rebecca Clarke sonata, Natalie’s performance of which has been described as ‘moving in sweeping arcs of emotion’, Elias’s L’innominata, commissioned for Natalie in 2018, Bloch’s From Jewish Life, and Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata. These last three works call for expressive tenderness and intensity, so much a hallmark of her playing.  Vaughan Williams Six studies in English folk song rounded off the programme in a cooler vein, although he aimed to treat these folk song settings with love!

Raymond Waud has provided these CD recommendations:

Natalie Clein has made very fine recordings of 4 of the works that were to be played, although the Bloch recording is with an orchestra rather than piano (Hyperion CDA67910 full price). The Vaughan Williams and Clarke are both included on Hyperion CDA68253 (full price) with Christian Ihle Hadland (piano). The Frank Bridge Cello Sonata is also included, and the disc is so good that I do not propose to give alternatives. The Rachmaninov was one of Natalie’s earlier recordings with Charles Owen (piano), coupled with the Chopin Cello Sonata on Warner/EMI 3 66938 2. The CD seems to have been deleted, but is available online at budget price, or a download at full price.

Bloch:  Raphael Wallfisch (cello) and John York (piano) include the work on a CD of works for Cello and Piano by Bloch. The disc is well recorded and is from Nimbus NI5943 (full price).

Rachmaninov:  Superb recordings by all the older masters, such as Rostropovich and Tortelier, are available, but a more modern reading by the young American cellist Alisa Weilerstein has attracted my attention. Together with Inon Barnatan (piano), she produces an exciting, passionate performance in excellent sound on Decca 478 8416 (full price). The coupling is the Chopin Cello Sonata.

Elias:  I can find no trace of a commercial recording.

As previously mentioned, Rachel Podger and Voces8 should have played for us in January.  Chris Skidmore provided the following recommendations for the podcast.

Both Rachel Podger & Voces8 have considerable discographies encompassing a wide range of music.  I will just highlight some of their records which relate to tonight’s programme.

Rachel Podger records on Channel Classics. All of her solo music from our programme – by Bach, Biber and Mattheis – can be found in her 2013 album Guardian Angel [CCSSA35513] together with solo violin works by Tartini and Pisandel.  This disc was praised by BBC Music Magazine who described the playing as ‘characteristically unforced and natural, [it] manages to sound endlessly considered yet spontaneous’: it won at the BBC Music Magazine awards in 2014.  To further explore the Biber Mystery sonatas, of which the passacaglia Guardian Angel is the culmination, Rachel has recorded them on a double album CCSSA37315. Her playing of solo Bach is well illustrated in her latest recording of her own violin transcription of the Bach cello suites – ‘A spellbinding set that is arguably Podger’s finest recorded achievement to date’ [BBC Music Magazine] – which can be found on another double album CCSSA41119.

The best introduction to the versatility and genius of Voces8 is probably provided by Voces8 EP which is obtainable from their website at Not only does it contain the Hieronymus Praetorius and the Mendelssohn from tonight’s programme but a good selection from their distinctive close harmony work including Simon & Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound and A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.  Much of the other traditional Christmas music included in The Guardian Angel is recorded on the album Equinox [VCM121D], although the Jonathan Dove piece has only been recorded on their latest double album After Silence [VCM121D].  You can also enjoy an eclectic collection of Voces8’s vocal performances on YouTube.

Two of the newest compositions in the programme can only be found on discs devoted to the music of the composer.  A selection of Alec Roth’s choral music, including Men and Angels has been recorded by the Birmingham choral group Ex Cathedra as A Time to Dance [Hyperion CDA68144].  Owain Park is a composer in the ascendant at the moment and there is a new disc of his choral music out this year, recorded by the London-based Epiphoni Consort, which contains The Antiphon for the Angels; this is When Love speaks [Delphian DCD34239].