Review of Ashtead Choral Society’s performance of The Creation by Joseph Haydn
Saturday 6th April 2019 at St Martin’s Church, Epsom
Reviewer: Sue S Meyer
Listening to this music one must remember that the events being celebrated are by definition happening for the first time ever, so a sense of awe with the occasional shock goes with the territory!
The concert began with the orchestra portraying the initial chaos, followed by the archangel Raphael announcing the void and the chorus whispering the mystery of the Spirit moving on the dark waters, culminating in the shock of light, with Ashtead Choral at full throttle.
After this the well-known sequence of events unfolded with consummate skill from all concerned:
Andrew Storey conducted with verve and aplomb, marshalling his huge forces with great dexterity.
Lucinda Cox, soprano, (Gabriel and Eve) sang with such beauty of tone and range, fully exploiting the generous acoustic of the church and always demanding the attention of the rapt audience.
Lizzy Humphries, alto, made a brief but beautiful contribution.
Mark Chaundy, tenor, sang the role of Raphael with supreme clarity in diction and vocal range and colour.
James Oldfield, bass, sang with both strength and warmth as Uriel and Adam.
It was such a great pleasure to be able to hear every word so clearly enunciated by them all.
The playing of Kent Sinfonia was a sheer delight as they filled the church with a full-on, well-blended sound with many opportunities for the individual instrumentalists to shine in Haydn’s masterpiece. Whether playing in their own right or underpinning the soloists and choir they were consistently superb.
Ashtead Choral Society clearly relished the challenges of this piece and were well drilled in its demands, not least the sections which demanded high energy and stamina, particularly in the closing numbers of each half, which expressed passionate praise for the Creator, both being thrilling highlights. They dealt well with the intricate interweaving of text and notes at each turn in all sections.
For me, one of the memorable highlights was Lucinda Cox singing of the creation of various birds with the wind section of Kent Sinfonia having immense fun interpreting their sounds.
The whole event was a joy from beginning to end and a fitting reward in itself for all the hard work put in by all concerned.