Elizabeth Watts and Derby Choral Union,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
This performance of Haydn's The Creation was to have been another joyful collaboration between Derby Choral Union and its patron, Emma Kirkby (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 21 March 2009). Unfortunately she was indisposed, but the choir was very lucky to engage the fast-rising Elizabeth Watts at just a couple of days' notice. Her thrilling sound and immaculate phrasing instantly dispelled any feelings of disappointment among the audience.
Indeed, this was one of the finest teams of soloists the Choral Union have assembled, with tenor Gareth Malone, ringingly declamatory in his opening recitative and exuding quiet dignity in the aria 'In Native Worth', and bass William Gaunt, rich but also clear and focussed in tone.
Above all, though, it was the sheer pace and energy of the choir's performance that impressed. Without seeming in any way rushed, the whole thing appeared to go by in a flash. 'A new created world ...' was all shining confidence, and the big concluding choruses to each day of creation were full of vitality.
Placing the interval half-way through Part 2 rather than at one of the work's ready-made breaks seemed odd. There were insecure starts to some of the numbers, but they did not threaten the sweep, energy and sheer exuberance of the performance as a whole.
Copyright © 4 April 2009