EIF 2018 Opening Concert, Usher Hall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
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Scottish Chamber Orchestra, National Youth Choir of Scotland

Haydn, The Creation
Edward Gardner (conductor), Christopher Bell (chorus director), Sarah Tynan (soprano), Robert Murray (tenor), Neal Davies (bass).
Running time

The Opening Concert set a very high standard with a particularly impressive Haydn’s The Creation. The oratorio told the story of God’s creation of the world - taken from the Bible’s Book of Genesis, and from Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Book of Psalms. The archangels Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel told the story and the chorus sang praises to God.

Edward Gardner conducted the Edinburgh-based Scottish Chamber Orchestra and, unusually, the one hundred and twenty voices sitting behind the Orchestra were the National Youth Choir of Scotland, young people up to the age of 25, rather than the Edinburgh Festival Chorus of recent opening concerts.

Christopher Bell, the chorus director, really does know how to have his singers project their voices so that every word, in English, was so very clear. Furthermore throughout they were all attentively watching the conductor.

The Orchestra had its fun. The varying dynamic of the creation of the boisterous sea, the emergence of mountains and rocks, the rivers flowing in serpent error contrasted so sensitively with emergence of grass, of flowers sweet and gay and fragrant herbs. Slightly unexpected, but fun, was the trombone creating a massive burp as Archangel Raphael was singing of the creation of cattle in the field which had followed the tawny lion, flexible tiger and nimble stag. Bit by bit the world was being created.

Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel were impressive. It had taken God just six days to create our world and on the seventh two of the archangels had become Adam and Eve.

I imagine most of the audience will have been familiar with at least some of The Creation. Because it was such a good performance, comfortable and familiar, the Festival's music programme was off to a confident start.

Performance: Saturday 4th August 2018 at 7.30pm.