EIF Opening Concert review: The Creation, Usher Hall

What does it take to breathe lustrous new life into a wonderful old masterpiece?

National Youth Choir of Scotland in action. Picture: Contributed

Opening Concert: The Creation, Usher Hall (*****)

Young people, in the case of Saturday’s opening EIF concert. This performance of Haydn’s Creation, which featured the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and soloists under conductor Edward Gardner, was made all the richer by the compelling, visceral presence of the top-notch National Youth Choir of Scotland.

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Let’s assume their reading of Haydn’s score was note perfect. Their fastidious director Christopher Bell accepts nothing less from any of his choirs. But one he has raised from seed, as it were, bears a quality you simply don’t get from the assorted adults of more senior choruses: an unblemished unanimity of tone, intonation, nuance and the unmistakable burnish of energised youth.

It was a complete joy hearing perennial trouble points in Haydn’s tenor line executed with fearless ease, or simply to savour textural gems that often pass you by.

Gardner’s overall vision was swift but accommodating, capturing the multi-coloured narrative with quasi-theatrical zeal, only the overture slightly lacking in definitive punch. A seductive Sarah Tynan, effortlessly lyrical Robert Murray and firm-footed Neal Davies formed the cohesive solo trio. But top marks to Scotland’s best mixed chorus, bar none.