Haydn's Creation
Keith Thatcher

I was invited to review the performance of Josef Haydn's The Creation at St Andrew's Church, Cheam, on Saturday November 16 2019. This has long been one of my favourite oratorios and I attended with great anticipation.

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The performance had some beautiful and stirring moments. The three soloists sang beautifully, and their ensemble singing was very secure.

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The soprano, Lisa Swayne, sang with a lovely tone, but with a tendency to crescendo towards her high notes whatever the written dynamic. She suffered from the choice of tempi for her main arias, as did the other soloists. I feel she would have preferred a slower tempo for her main aria With Verdure Clad, as with most of her other solos.

The tenor, Joseph Doody, again sang beautifully, mainly in the recitatives and ensembles. In Native Worth, his major aria, was very nicely performed.

Gavin Horsley, the bass soloist, gave a particularly strong performance. His rendition of Straight Opening Her Fertile Womb was a delight. Its depiction of the lion, the stag, the horse, cattle etc. and ending with a wondrous low D for the sinuous worm, although not in the score, was splendid. His singing both as soloist and in ensemble was outstanding.

Especially beautiful was the duet Graceful Consort with Lisa, and the duet By Thee With Bliss, which was accompanied by the chorus, achieved a lovely piano sound. This was a high spot of the evening for me.

The English Sinfonietta kept up with the fast speeds very well. Some of the introductions suffered from confusion over starting tempi. There was much beautiful playing, especially from the woodwind section.

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The chorus sang very well throughout, when they were not struggling to keep up. The tempi chosen for the major choruses such as The Heavens Are Telling and the final Sing The Lord Ye Voices All, which combined the soloists and the chorus, was far too fast and the clarity and nobility of these, and most of the other choruses in the work, were lost. However, the great moment of "and there was LIGHT" was wonderfully achieved with a true pianissimo before, and a thunderous C major chord on the word LIGHT. Truly memorable.

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Keith Thatcher is a local musician and one of our guest reviewers.
Our thanks to Clive Richards for the excellent pictures

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