Thursday, September 4, 2014

Divine performance, thunderous applause

Haydn's The Creation, NZSO and City Choir Dunedin, 3 September 2014, Dunedin Town Hall

Haydn’s The Creation presents a journey through a fantastic wonderland where man presides over an infinitely bountiful natural world, where love and luxury prevail equitably. It celebrates a miraculous creation devoid of lurking snakes and leaves the listener replete with unworldly exaltation.

In the Dunedin Town Hall, it was divinely performed to a full house by the NZSO, the City Choir Dunedin and soloists soprano Madeleine Pierard, tenor Robin Tritschler and bass Jonathan Lemalu under the inspired direction of Nicholas McGegan.

Although the choir’s part-singing sounded a little muddied at times when concentration was required, overall their sound was cohesive, dedicated and articulate with strong entries.

The solo voices melded beautifully together. All showed tremendous strength in softer passages with Lemalu’s tender tones being particularly pleasing.

Pierard was also notable for her delicacy and agility throughout her range. Their duet as Adam and Eve became as tender a love song as an oratorio can properly allow, enriched with the best of human quality. Tritschler’s tenor was clear with rich finesse.

The work rises gracefully, yet with great moment, out of silence. It relates the creation of life which, banishing gloom, evolves over the mythical seven days, divided into two parts, with a third devoted to Adam and Eve in Eden, to bloom with the simple rapture, joyful bliss, that the natural world inspires.

The playful word painting of water, birds, roaring lions and sinuous tigers were mostly successful.

While Lemalu’s depiction of lowly insects drew a laugh from the audience, the farmyard sounds of chickens and cattle failed to make their wit resound.

Although this long work sometimes tests the audience’s power of concentration, this performance was rewarded with thunderous stamping and prolonged applause. Contemporary cynicism was banished for the night.


Reviewed for the Otago Daily Times by Marian Poole, 4 September 2014.

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