from the Wokingham Times, 12 April 2000
THIS wonderful performance expressed the deep significance of Elgar's meditation on the Four Last Things with tremendous conviction.
The beautiful tone of the Praying Assistants has a sincere warmth. The wicked Demons were well controlled and restrained in a way which made their evil attacks truly vicious.
The "sonorities" of the Choir of Angelicals did indeed "swirl about us as if in another world".
They conveyed the profound meaning of "Praise to the Holiest": the last verse of the hymn was splendid.
Their conductor, Edward Gardner, led the performance at a steady, firm pace which suggested the inevitability of the sequence of events. His reading followed Cardinal Newman's poem closely, keeping clear of the operatic pitfalls in the music. His close rapport with the choir showed clearly throughout right up to the perfect final Amen.
The Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra, with its eloquent string section, balanced well with the singers.
The soloists enhanced the meditative nature of the oratorio. James Oxley, with his expressive tenor voice, sang the demanding part of Gerontius.
Catherine Wyn-Rogers brought a calm warmth and sweetness to the Angel. Riccardo Simonetti's rich baritone provided a well-contrasted Angel of the Agony.