19 October, 2009

Concert Review: Haydn Creation

Concert Review: Haydn Creation

Octorber 19, 2009, CCCH
Orchester der Klangwaltung/Chorgemeinschaft Neubeuern
Enoch zu Guttenberg, conductor

lcsd website/artist info
Official site

When the choir and orchestra came onstage I was rather excited by their unusually well-designed costumes. While the men in the choir donned Bavarian jackets (similar to Austria's loden jacket, or our Zhongshan, or India's Nehru), the ladies wore subtly patterned dresses. The orchestral ladies were even more spectacular. While their male counterparts wore the usual suits and tails, many of the women wore clothing with unusual cuts and complex non-primary colors that embrace the range from near-orange to near-purple. As in the photo in their promo material, they project a suave image.The designer behind the package should be credited!

The somewhat HIP (historically informed) orchestra used largely modern instruments and was of reduced string size (strings 10, 8, 7, 5, 3) compared to the full woodwinds. The trumpets and trombones were smaller horns than what we usually see. The continuo is unusually a painoforte.

Part I opened with a nice flourish, the vibrato-less string sound and bold tympani eerily evocative. However, as things progressed I became less engaged. The orchestral members played in a highly individual manner but did not quite gel into an ensemble that could deliver forcefully when asked to. This was partly due to the limited size of the strings (in this large venue) and partly due to the approach of the conductor (who bears some resemblance to Tennstedt), who conducted in a somewhat choppy manner, frequently clipping things, even fortissimi, in the wings. While there was much beauty in the tone-painting of the creation of light, water and animals, there was a lack of organic flow and hence, lack of momentum.

The chorus was apparently well-grilled. They sang with unison (even sounding one-voiced sometimes) and wonderful diction. But they were unfortunately placed on the stage rather then in the surrounding balcony. The sound was not as projected as I'd have liked. I say this for a reason. In 04/2004, the London Philharmonic Chorus gave a thrilling Creation with the HKPO under Samuel Wong, and the choral sound then was phenomenally full.

The soloists were excellent. The singing of bass-baritone Klaus Mertens (Raphael) was partician, beautifully projected and just about perfect. Soprano Miriam Meyer (Gabriel; and she was like an angel) has a beautiful voice, sang passionately and ravishingly and was positively beaming in her fortissimos. The Uriel of tenor Colin Blazer was slightly below their level, but still had good command of the style. In Part III, I liked the solid Adam of baritone Thosmas Scharr more than the smokily operatic Eve of soprano Elisabetta Lombardi, who also had the least clear diction.

During the intermission the performers were seen puffing away hard outside. True Europeans! And when they returned, they turned the throttle one notch up. The ensemble improved and the climaxes were more thrilling. The audience was enthusiastic.

Overall, this was a performance that shone light on many details, with meticulous attention to balance and the meaning of the words. However, in terms of coherence and overall excitement it was quite a bit behind the more traditional LPO chorus/HKPO performance mentioned earlier. That performance gave unbirdled passion and joy, and is that not more appropriate for an oratorio that glorifies God?

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to belong in the orchestra in Europe, because classical music is very rare in Indonesia. I do not have enough expenses to study classical music in Europe, because here there is no support for classical music