Hogarth Singers Excel in Haydn’s ‘The Creation’

Male voices needed now for the chorus


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It took God seven days to create the earth. Joseph Haydn wrote The Creation in 18 months.  But Jonathan Wikeley, musical director of the Hogarth Singers put together a 28- strong orchestra, three soloists and a choir to perform the masterpiece in a few hours.

And lo it was good. The West London choir try to broaden their repertoire and be a little more ambitious with each concert and this was the biggest orchestra that it has fielded for many years.

Jonathan Wikeley conducted his impromptu team with customary calm panache, creating a sound that – one or two awry notes apart - sounded as if it had been rehearsed for weeks, thanks in no little part to the underpinning by choir pianist Andrew Wells.

The choir, who had been practicing for weeks, were well drilled, clearly relishing their dramatic entrances to what is one of the great choral works and sweeping the audience along with its brio.

The soloists were exceptional. Soprano Philippa Hyde, as Gabriel and Eve looked as if she was auditioning for TV’s new talent show, The Voice in her shimmering green silk and a white stole. Luckily she sang as spectacularly as she was dressed. 

Tenor Paul Robinson and bass Paul Sheehan sang with assurance and sensitivity. Some of the translation from Hayden’s German is positively rococo and anyone who can make a line like ‘In long dimensions creeps / with sinuous trace the worm’ sound meaningful, almost moving, as Sheehan did, has a rare talent. .

The exchange between Adam (Sheehan) and Eve (Hyde) in one of the best known arias – ‘with thee is life incessant bliss; thine it whole shall be’ – was both expressive and rather touching.

The chorus, like many amateur choirs, was notably short of men. The next concert will feature, by way of contrast, Bob Chilcott’s newly-written Requiem. Rehearsals start on April 16 and the Singers are on the lookout for new recruits.    

Reviewer: Antony Fellows

March 27, 2012

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