Concert November 2021
Haydn The Creation
- Carolyn Sampson soprano
- Benjamin Hilett tenor
- Matthew Brook bass
- Winchester Music Club choir
- Winchester Music Club orchestra led by James Toll
- Winchester College Quiristers and Glee Club
Concert Review by Derek Beck
“The massed forces of Winchester Music Club’s choir and orchestra together with Winchester College Chapel Choir and Glee Club reconvened post-lockdowns with an appropriately joyous rendition of Haydn’s oratorio The Creation.
The slightly disappointing audience was reminded that in these days of climate change and eco-anxieties there is much to be thankful for in the natural world and this music underlined the delight we should find in its protection. All this was spelled out in the programme booklet – probably one of the most sophisticated and lavish produced by any local arts body.
Guest conductor Howard Ionascu drew glorious sounds from all the choral groups with a particularly radiant top line. There was power and calm reflection by turns and strong rhythmic attacks at often quite crisp tempi. The most challenging final chorus displayed all these qualities with no sense of lacklustre tiredness.
Substantial contributions from an outstanding trio of soloists eased the workload of the choirs. Wykhamist Ben Hulett has come a long way since he first sang Creation in Romsey Abbey 20 years ago. His tenor is powerful yet beautiful in all registers and carried well in the Cathedral. Carolyn Sampson’s soprano is famous for its agility and precision in baroque and classical music – well demonstrated here with all the power necessary to ride accompanying choral and instrumental sounds. She brought charm and conviction to the Adam and Eve duets partnered by bass, Matthew Brook. Throughout all his solos he showed operatic skill in characterising text by subtle changes in vocal timbre and dynamics. These were three flawless individual artistes.
Orchestral tuning took time to settle, especially in the highly chromatic overture, aptly entitled The Representation of Chaos. By contrast, there was immaculate wind playing in the trio On each living soul awaits and many excellent solo instrumental moments in Raphael’s recitative listing animals. Authentic use of a fortepiano was less convincing in that acoustic leaving the solo continuo cellist as the most prominent support for recitatives.
Perhaps most credit should go to Haydn for offering us such a sunny escape from modern day chaos!”