Auckland Choral at Auckland Town Hall

31. March 2009 - NZ Herald

Uwe Grodd

Auckland Choral’s The Creation was an imaginative contribution to the Haydn bicentenary as well as being a welcome opportunity to hear a work last performed in this city eight years ago. This is one of the monuments of its genre. Influenced by the popular oratorios of Handel, The Creation has Haydn setting texts from Genesis, the Book of Psalms and Milton’s Paradise Lost to express his wonderment and faith in Mankind.

Uwe Grodd and his musicians certainly caught the freshness of Haydn’s score, even if the opening Representation of Chaos had its insecure moments. However, from James Harrison’s authoritative opening recitative, with its simple but effective choral refrain, we were caught up in this marvellous score.

With Auckland Choral joined by the young voices of the University of Auckland Chamber Choir, the great optimistic choruses like The Heavens are Telling stunned as intended. The more testing weave of the later Achieved is the glorious work also held no fear for these singers.

Pepe Becker is a soprano with Early Music allegiances so, not surprisingly, she allowed herself the occasional ornamentation here and there, her voice rising clear and true above the orchestra in arias like With verdure clad.

Kenneth Cornish’s scrupulously moulded tenor was apparent from his opening Now vanish before the Holy Beams although he was not always as successful as Becker in penetrating through the orchestra. His aria, In Native Worth, immaculately phrased, would have benefited from more vocal bloom.

The lightish bass voice of James Harrison made for complete audibility as far as texts were concerned and he also has a keen appreciation of Haydn’s shapely lines, although the recitatives in which he introduces the newly-made creatures of sea and land, cried out for more dramatisation.

The only severe disappointment of the evening came not from the musicians but from The Edge. A delay of 20 minutes was brought about through inefficient box office procedures and patrons were permitted to enter during the performance, one scampering none too lightly across the hall in front of us – an intrusion that is an insult to the audience, the musicians and, finally, to Haydn.

Review by William Dart – NZ Herald – Tuesday Mar, 31 , 2009 t