Anne L Ryan reports on Collegium Laureatum performing Haydn's The Creation – West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, 16 Dec 2006

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
The performance of Haydn's Creation by Collegium Laureatum at West Road Concert Hall, on Saturday, 16 December was a triumphant success.

In The Creation, Haydn makes great use of melody, harmony and orchestration, giving the soloists and orchestra the opportunity to show their individual and collective flair. Parts 1 and 2 narrate the six days of Creation, opening in Part I with the Representation of Chaos, moving from the darkness into the light - where they showed a soft and subtle dynamic - to make way for the first soloist.

Raphael's Recitative brought light to the world, and bass vocalist, John Williams Oldfield, arrived on the first note, like a butterfly touching a leaf. His performance was both light and humourous, particularly as a 'bleating flock'. Most noteworthy was his Adam and Eve duet with Augusta Herbert where they delighted the audience with their mingling romance, maintaining a beautiful, lyrical quality throughout. Augusta Herbert's voice has a very pleasing tone, where high notes were delicately brushed and swept along as if by angels wings. At times coy in presentation, she shows much promise. In Part II, singing Gabriel's Air she and flautist Robert Fulford swept the audience away as the music brought them soaring around the heavens. Tenor John McMunn, as Uriel, created drama and tension in equal measure and carried off his recitatives with poise and confidence.

Both choir and orchestra were entirely consumed with the task throughout. They excelled on many occasions but particularly on the last Chorus of Part II, 27B 'Achieved is the glorious work'. In all, it was compelling. Ian Cobb should be congratulated - not least for his characteristically energetic conducting and for the pleasure the audience derived from the production. A beautiful performance!

Writer: Anne L Ryan