Choral Splendor Marks TMC’s The Creation at Koerner Hall

Joseph So, Musical Toronto

One of the cornerstones of the oratorio repertoire, Haydn’s The Creation (Die Schöpfung) is a wonderful work that I never get tired of hearing. Together with Die Jahreszeiten, it’s two pieces on my short list of go-to oratorios if I ever want a “spiritual uplift.” So it was great to hear it again the other evening at Koerner Hall. For some reason I associate this piece with the arrival of spring, so how appropriate that the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is programming it in April!  The three soloists were soprano Leslie Ann Bradley, tenor Zach Finkelstein, and bass-baritone Alexander Hajek, with TMC Artistic Director Noel Edison at the helm.

The three soloists were all familiar to Toronto music lovers. Leslie Ann Bradley excels in both opera and as a concert singer. The soprano solo is very florid, requiring agility and purity of tone. On this occasion, Bradley was at her best in the quiet and adagio sections, her middle voice truly lovely. In fast music, the tempo was too brisk for her to negotiate the coloratura cleanly, as a result it was a bit smudged and the top notes rather tight and pinched, especially in fortissimo. Zach Finkelstein has a light tenor — what he lacks in vocal weight, he makes up for it with a sweet timbre. While I’m used to a more substantial tenor sound in this music, he did well. Of the three soloists, Alexander Hajek came off the best. His voice with its warm timbre has the right colour and weight, and he fully exploited the humour in the text, and the audience responded.

Not surprisingly, top honours went to the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Canada’s oldest and largest choral group, TMC is a national treasure. I count myself lucky to be living in Toronto and have heard them countless times making great music.

Read the full review online.