from the Wokingham Times, April 2007
GUILDFORD Philharmonic opened this Brahms concert, conducted by Aidan Oliver, with the popular Variations on a Theme by Haydn. The musicians gave a very pleasing performance which led joyously to the triumphant Finale.
Then came the German Requiem, a collection of texts set to choral music. Each section considers a different aspect of death and the hereafter. Aidan Oliver's sensitive reading brought out the deep emotions Brahms was expressing in a way that retained the formality of the composer's classical background. This allowed the grand and passionate music to speak for itself.
The choral passages are very demanding. There are the loud, triumphant passages (the repeat of Den alles and the last trump in Denn wir Haben were thrilling) and the smooth, calm Selig sind die Toten at the start and at the end. Throughout the whole piece, the tone of the singing was remarkably fine.
This was obviously a very carefully prepared performance with great attention to detail such as clarity of diction, phrasing and precision. The Society's accompanist, Christopher Cromar must be given credit.
We have come to expect wonders from Wokingham Choral, but on this occasion they surpassed expectation and gave a faultless performance. The soprano soloist Katherine Manley sang Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit with calm tenderness; her singing seemed effortless in her warm tender interpretation.
Rodney Clarke's clear, relaxed baritone and his intelligent phrasing enhanced the resigned significance of Herr, lehre doch mich.