PAUL Brough worked hard and looked drained at the end of Haydn's oratorio. Whether in the final analysis his conducting secured an uplifting performance will depend on individual response.
The enthusiastic applause at the end suggested it had made its mark, his striving for a Classical (ie, 'period') sound with modern instruments and forces had come off. Or was it for the singing of the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, who somehow managed meet his wishes despite their size?
Word projection aside, they sang with superb control, excellent balance and restrained power when not letting rip a suitably mighty fortissimo "light" on the first day of creation, while being equal to Brough's nimble rhythmic demands for The Heavens Are Telling.
Tenor Thomas Hobbs was highly impressive as Uriel with crystal clear diction. The recitative of the creation of day and night, the seasons, years and days was marvellously unfurled and his arias were sung with lyrical warmth.
Although snatching at and promptly ducking an ornamented line in With Verdure Clad, soprano Julia Sporsén sang Gabriel's arias with clean line and power. Her entry at Eve's Spouse adored! was wonderful.
Andrew Rupp, more baritone than bass, found Adam's music more conducive than Raphael's, in which he often sounded underpowered, especially in the arias.
His recitative depiction of the creation of the animals wasn't particularly vivid and it was left to Manchester Camerata members to provide the 'colour', which they did superbly.
Generally, the orchestra's playing, especially the woodwind, was terrific throughout, but some extra strings would not have gone amiss.
Bernard Lee, Sheffield Telegraph
Published Date: 02 December 2009