Yesterday afternoon and evening I was in rehearsal for the Parliament Choir’s performance of Haydn’s The Creation at Cadogan Hall tomorrow night. It should be clear to anybody who has ever heard me speak about Haydn that I am a devoted admirer of both the man and his work, and consider him still to be massively underrated, the scope of his achievement still undersold. On top of all that he also found time to be a decent chap, and that is not something we could say about all great composers.
More and more, though, I am coming to the conclusion that The Creation is his greatest work, and also one of the very happiest in the entire repertoire. Quite by accident I found myself in an envious position last night, singing in the recitatives in the absence of soloists, and I realised that I was in one of those money-can-just-about-buy positions of having a go at one of my favourite pieces with a live orchestra. It seems that Haydn’s music just keeps on seeking out new ways to make me smile.
Hearing the work with orchestra, in colour, amplifies Haydn’s extraordinary vision, the lush divided strings of the “great whales” particularly eloquent as well as mellifluously beautiful and, in my opinion, probably unbeatable in terms of illustration, but the sun, moon, elephants, insects and worms are pretty good as well. Heavens, in places it is pretty much his Carnival Of The Animals.
Really this is just a long-winded advertisement, trying to get you to come along to our concert. The choir is on tip-top form at the moment, and if you think of the Parliament Choir as some kind of rowdy after-hours singalong, then I think you could well be in for a surprise. From the start of the rehearsal period we have tried to focus on the idea that we need to give a performance of which Haydn would have been proud, and I am sure that my thoughts will turn time and again towards that great man on Wednesday as I discover yet more joys in that wondrous work.