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from the Wokingham Times, June 2009

Wokingham Choral Society in versatile form

All Saints Church, Wokingham
 

Wokingham Choral Society presented a strikingly varied programme for its Summer Concert at All Saints Church on Saturday 13 June.

The evening was divided into two distinct parts and knitted together by a commentary from the conductor, Alexander Chaplin. In the first the music of Haydn and Mendelssohn was commemorated, Haydn having died in 1809, the year when Mendelssohn was born.

The initial work, Haydn's Missa Brevis (Little Organ Mass) was indeed brief, lasting barely twenty minutes. It is nevertheless one of his most delightful compositions. The choir obviously thought so from the vivacity of their performance. The work is also noteworthy for the equal importance given to the enticing organ accompaniment and the choral score, justifying its English title.

Alexander Chaplin and the Society's accompanist, Christopher Cromar then gave a virtuoso performance of Mendelssohn's Fingals Cave overture, arranged as a piano duet.

Three choruses from Haydn's The Creation - 'Awake the harp', 'The Heavens are telling' and 'Achieved is the glorious work' brought the first half to a rapturous and thrilling end.

 

The second half consisted of four well-loved poems by Marlowe, Wordsworth, Lewis Carroll and Kipling, ably read by members of the choir, and interspersed with music. After contrasting pairs of light-hearted and contemplative madrigals the mood changed yet again, with piano duet arrangements of Jamaican Rumba and Tango for Two . The choir then sang settings of Satin doll, Where do I begin? and Sit down, you're rocking the boat , thus inadvertently ending the concert on a politically topical note!

The Society's ability to embrace widely diverse musical styles with such panache is quite remarkable. Their self assurance was underlined as members of the choir confidently stepped forward to sing the solos where required. A few notes were even heard from the conductor's podium.

Robin Eaglen