Was absolutely lovely to return to sing with Crieff Choral again this Spring to sing my first Creation, here is a lovely review from the concert…..
Choral Group creates a wonderful atmosphere.
We are in a time in the United Kingdom when we are weighed down with Brexit dilemmas, and across the world people are questioning the way our planet and its environment are being cared for and protected.
So there could be no better antidote than to discover how our unique world was created using the biblical story and sublime music in the form of Joseph Haydn’s oratorio ‘The Creation’, stunningly performed last night by Crieff Choral Group.
Composed between 1796 and 1798 following a visit to England where he was inspired by performances of Handel’s oratorios, Haydn returned to Vienna to start work on one of his finest creations – excuse the pun!
The libretto by the Englishman Thomas Lindley was adapted by the German Baron Gottfried van Swieten and depicts and celebrates the creation of the world from the Book of Genesis.
From the first gentle introductory chords of the Representation of Chaos from the superb City of Perth Sinfonia, the audience knew that this concert would be a masterpiece.
It was striking how magically the sympathetic scoring of the music echoed the words.
Having formed the waters, the rolling, undulating score of lyrical melodies and harmonies which Haydn had written to depict the ‘foaming billows’ of the seas, and simple but pastoral accompaniment to the ‘limpid rivers’, conjured up contrasting watery scenes.
Another stirring section of ‘tone painting’, enhanced by the chamber orchestra’s perfect dynamics, was illustrated by ascending, spine-tingling chords played with increasing crescendo to a climax where the sun rose as a blazing and dazzling orb.
This was immediately contrasted by the delicate scoring for the pale, silvery moon casting her ethereal shadow over the earth – one could almost sense the tentacles of pearly, lustrous light spreading across the landscape.
However, it was the sublime singing of the three soloists who conjured up the poetry of the words and musical notation into images in our minds.
The soprano Colleen Nicoll (Angel Gabriel and Eve) had indeed the voice of an angel effortlessly soaring over the audience.
In contrast, Jerome Knox (Raphael and Adam) gave a wonderful performance filled with gravitas with his rich, deep, bass voice.
To complement these, Christian Schneeberger (Uriel) with his accomplished tenor voice created the contrast with his rich and polished tones.
The three superb soloists dovetailed their voices, magically weaving the melodies, harmonies and dynamics together while enunciating the words perfectly.
The humour and symbiosis of Colleen and Jerome whilst singing the Eve and Adam duet brought many a smile, while Christian’s singing encapsulated the progress of the Creation, especially in the beautifully sung ‘In Rosy Mantle Appears’.
Nonetheless, it was the singing of the Crieff Choral Group which created the backbone of the piece with their choruses.
From the commanding ‘Awake the Harp!’, through the affirming ‘The Lord is Great’ to the proud ‘Achieved is the Glorious Work’, the members of the choir showed how polished and professional their singing was.
The fugue sections were perfectly dovetailed and the choir provided brilliance in speed, precision and tonality.
Across the oratorio, their voices took turns to soar, emphasise, harmonise and enrich the music – Crieff is indeed lucky to have such a dedicated choir who can sing so professionally.
The celebratory ‘Sing the Lord, ye voices all’ at the end was equalled by the lyrical and joyful ‘The Heavens are Telling’ and the audience could feel the joy of the choir in their singing.
But of course, a large work such as Haydn’s ‘Creation’ does not achieve such heights without rehearsals, taken by the conductor Peter Rutterford, who was fantastic as maestro of all last night.
He conducted chorus, soloists and chamber orchestra with empathy and professionalism, creating a magical experience for both participants and audience alike.
A wonderful and positive evening to celebrate our world and all that is lovely in its creation.