Nothing makes a concert quite like a smart programme, and as programmes go this one was as cunningly constructed as they come, echoing back and forth across the centuries to give us a new-Elizabethan-eye view of an old Elizabethan England.

Even when Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote his early masterpiece the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallisfor the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival in 1910, the Tudor master’s Why Fum’th in Fight the Gentiles Spitecould hardly have been a tune on everybody’s lips. Nowadays its an even rarer avis in the Anglican service, yet its beauty lives on thanks to RVW’s bold endeavour – one that by embracing the harmonic modes of a 16th-century musical past in its small way led one of the charges in British ‘new’ music of the early 20th century.

I guess it seems obvious, but I’ve never heard the choral version of Tallis’ original sung as a prelude to the Vaughan Williams. Sydney Philharmonia Choirs warm, solid sound slipped magically into the hushed opening string chords of the Fantasiawith an effortless ease and an intensity that bridged the centuries in the space of a few seconds. With a consort of nine players on the...