Reviews: Dvořák: Stabat Mater

23rd March, 2019.
Great Hall, University of Reading


On Saturday, 23 March 2019, Wokingham Choral Society gave a superb performance of Dvorak’s Stabat Mater in the Great Hall of the University of Reading. Set to a thirteenth Latin poem the oratorio tells the story of the Virgin Mary’s grief at the crucifixion of her son, Jesus, and the sharing of her grief leading to a triumphant expectation of Paradise. The deeply felt work was inspired by the composer’s own loss of three children in the space of two years.

This was the first time the Society had performed it in its seventy – seven year history and it would not have been familiar to many in the audience. This made the superb introductory talk by the Society’s conductor, James Morley Potter, especially valuable.

Dvorak’s setting evoked a range of emotions between delicate poignancy and scarcely bearable intensity. Amongst its many striking passages the women’s voices in four parts were gently accompanied by the orchestra and Ben Lewis-Smith on the organ in Fac ut ardeat and in the final Amen the choir closed their scores and sang directly to the rapt audience.

As we have come to expect, the Society was brilliantly served by the Hampstead Chamber Orchestra and, for this occasion, four superb soloists. Indeed, the musical community in the Wokingham area is extraordinarily fortunate to enjoy such resources and to have a Society with the courage and imagination to bring such a wonderful vocal work to a wider public.

The popular Summer Concert of the Society, entitled ‘Songs of Travel’ will be performed locally in All Saints’ Church, Wokingham, on Saturday, 22 June 2019.

R. J. E (aglen). 24Mar2019