TUESDAY’S concert opened with a delicious performance of Brahms’ quirky, affectionate gypsy songs, Zigeunerlieder.

Soloists Catrin Woodruff (soprano), Anna Harvey (mezzo soprano), Jason Darnell (tenor) and Johnny Herford (bass) instantly proved to be an excellent vocal ensemble – fresh, lively and moving with terrific, energetic support from pianist Ben Horden.

And then the Rossini. Well, someone’s having a larf: Rossini’s wonderful Petite Messe Solennelle is neither petite – weighing in at about an hour-and-a-half – and neither is it particularly solennelle. This performance by the University Choir, directed by Peter Seymour, was more akin to an operatic form of music, full of drama and, yes, wit. And instead of Rossini’s expectation of a maximum of 12 singers, there were hundreds of them. The choir were in fine voice throughout and though we may have lost intimacy, we didn’t lose detail.

I loved the opening Kyrie with lovely part-singing by the choir, solemn and respectful, and managing to keep a straight face listening to the quirky piano commentary.

Following a gorgeous Laudamus te, with the soloists creating a lovely, velvety texture, tenor Jason Darnell delivered a brilliant, operatic Domine Deus – deliciously inappropriate, but it worked!

The Gloria concluded in a burst of energetic choral and piano joy. And so the Mass progressed, not quite believing one’s ears, yet loving every minute of it. All four soloists were remarkable and combined impeccably. But a special mention must go to pianist Ben Horden. A technically terrific, commanding performance, and I didn’t see him smile once, not even at the close. Now that is some achievement.