REVIEW: Composer’s work another triumph

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Buxton Musical Society marked Remembrance Sunday at St John’s Church with a programme including works by Vaughan Williams that are associated with the First World War which the composer had experienced first hand as a stretcher bearer.

The first work entitled Five Mystical Songs is a setting of words by the poet George Herbert for choir and baritone. The warm, rich voice of Ben Bevan, standing in for soloist Matthew Hargreaves, beautifully suited this work and was supported by some fine singing from the choir.

The second Vaughan Williams work was Dona Nobis Pacem largely based on words by Walt Whitman. This is the closest the composer ever came to creating a requiem mass.

Here the baritone was joined by soprano Hannah Sawle whose lovely voice we had heard before in the Mozart mass sung by the society and broadcast by the BBC from St John’s during this year’s festival.

The singing of both soloists was remarkable for the apparent ease with which they delivered their parts without any appearance of stress in reaching for the high notes. This is a difficult work particularly for the choir in that some of the intervals are rather unexpected. But they rose magnificently to the occasion.

Between the choral works the orchestra gave us the well-known Symphony No8 by Dvorak.

It was one of the very best ensemble by the orchestra with superb brass and woodwind, dashing percussion and, as we now confidently expect, immaculate strings. Another triumph for the conductor, Michael Williams, and the society.

l The next Buxton Musical Society concert will be their annual carol concert at Buxton Opera House on Sunday December 8 at 7.30pm, when they will be joined by the choir of Worcester College, Oxford.