Review of Eastbourne Choral Society’s performance of Haydn’s Creation May 2009, by Carol Mounter

The 16th May proved to be a bumper treat day for the residents of Eastbourne, who attended a performance of Haydn's Creation at All Saints’ Church. The production, with the combined choirs of Eastbourne Choral Society, Moira House Chamber Choir and Eastbourne College Choral Society and Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra, was ably led under the baton of John Hancorn whose interpretation of the work was both inspiring and dramatic.  This is a piece which is obviously dramatic but can easily descend to pantomime - John Hancorn managed to imbibe it with colour whilst keeping the individual sections precise to their meaning.

The Choir, from the first magical sotto voce opening to the subito forte, kept the audience spellbound.  Eastbourne Choral goes from strength to strength and is sounding more professional with each concert they give. The addition of Eastbourne College and Moira House meant that we were treated to a balanced, crisp swell of sound.  The Orchestra, also, played exceedingly well and the individual instrumentals within the whole were sensitive and mellifluous.  Creation (a late composition, 1797-1798) was one of Haydn's favourite works and he was quoted as saying that he spent much of his time on his knees in prayer as he composed the work.  There is an odd little anecdote that when Creation was played to contestants on a radio 3 quiz programme, three of them thought it was by Wagner!

There is much in the score that is operatic in content and to that effect, the soloists were well-matched to the piece.
Firstly, soprano Kishani Jayasinghe.  A treat for eye and ear...sounding as well as she looked, this young Sri Lankan soprano sang her arias with an effortless assurance.  Her coloratura flexibility aligned with a warm and rounded middle voice to make every note a delight.  As she grows in experience, this young soprano finds more warmth and colour and I especially enjoyed her air "O mighty Pens".  She relishes her singing and her generous personality shone through each Air. She was joined by a young Canadian Tenor, Pascal Charbonneau, who has a very promising voice and again acted his roles with whole-hearted involvement. "In rosy mantle appears" showed his voice at its best.  He was joined by Michael George, Baritone, whose reputation has spanned many venues and operatic and oratorio, and whose voice was at its particular best when singing pianissimo, with a lovely creaminess.  All three excelled in the trios and duets, when the balance of their voices blended most beautifully. 

Watching the faces and hearing the comments at the end of the evening left one in no doubt that this was a very special concert and one heartily enjoyed by the music lovers of Eastbourne. Well done, to all concerned!

 

 

 

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