from the Reading Chronicle, April 2011
VAUGHAN Williams' Five Mystical Songs, his setting of poems by the 17th century author George Herbert, originally consisted of just four pieces, mainly sung by a baritone soloist with subdued accompaniment from the choir. The fifth movement for choir alone was added later.
Matthew Sprange sang the solos with skilful attention to the dynamics of the passages and the choir came into their own in the final movement with an exuberant performance of Let All The World In Every Corner Sing.
Christopher Cromar accompanied this work on the piano and was later joined by Dominic John playing four of Brahms Hungarian Dances (No 1 in G minor, No 3 in F major, No 6 in D flat major and, probably the most famous, No 5 in F sharp major). While these works are usually performed as orchestral showpieces, they were originally composed as piano duets and it was delightful to hear them in their original form, the performances fully meriting the approbation of the audience.
Australian soprano Helena Dix joined Matthew Sprange and the chorus for Brahms German Requiem, the gentle lyrical passages of the opening contrasting perfectly with the contrapuntal section and the uplifting passages of later sections. The final chorus certainly kept the top sopranos on their toes.
However, I found Cecilia McDowall's On Angel's Wings somewhat out of place with the rest of this programme, directed by the Society's regular conductor Alexander Chaplin.