CBSO, at Symphony Hall
Andris Nelsons often refers to the “family” atmosphere at the CBSO, and this performance of Haydn’s Creation certainly glowed with it.
Presiding like a paterfamilias, sometimes scarcely conducting at all, Nelsons drew the most genial of accounts of this masterpiece (even the anti-feminist and generally yucky Part III managed not to bore) from his lively orchestra and Simon Halsey’s splendidly-projecting CBSO Chorus.
The piece looks back at the choruses in Handel’s great oratorios, but also forward to the depths and harmonic shadings of so much mature Beethoven. And somewhere along the way it assimilates the operatic textures and woodwind colourings of Mozart.
The result is irresistible in the right hands, and Nelsons’ were certainly those.
In addition to the sprightly orchestral playing (Peter Hill’s timpani looked modern but sounded so authentic) and vivid choral contributions, the continuo-playing of fortepianist Alistair Young and cellist Ulrich Heinen was alert and deliciously seasoned.
Soprano Ailish Tynan, creamy and impressively virtuosic, tenor Toby Spence, so intelligent and expressive, and bass Vuyani Mlinde (a real find, sonorous and humorous – his D in profundo for “worm” had chorus basses gasping) added to the joy of the evening.
What a pity everything has gone wrong since the innocent days of the Garden of Eden.