A concert of deep contrasts in mood: Vaughan Williams’s hauntingly evocative cantata, with its great visionary scope and marvellously complex choral forces, and the youthful Puccini’s exuberant and tuneful Mass setting.
Vaughan Williams’s haunting cantata, written in response to the First World War, describes the end of time and the descent of the holy city from Heaven. It is a visionary work of great power, rarely performed due to the complex choral input, including a distant children’s choir. This performance is at the request of the late Ian Buist, scholar, humanitarian, gay rights activist and distinguished civil servant, who sang Sanctas Civitas with the Oxford Bach Choir, conducted by Vaughan Williams himself.
Messa di Gloria is an exciting insight into the brilliant potential shown by Giacomo Puccini as a student: it was his graduation exercise at Lucca Music Conservatoire. The work is a confident tour-de-force, brimming with colour, vitality and good tunes.