Haydn's Creation is the perfect antidote for those who suspect that a choral night out might be an evening of gloom-filled religioso music.

This treatment of the creation story is a resolutely sunny affirmation of life and faith.

Adam and Eve are part of it, but there are no malevolent serpents in sight or within hearing.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra brought it all to resplendent life, under Nicholas McGegan.


There was spectacle in the opening Representation of Chaos, with fresh and intriguing sounds that reflected the conductor's knowledge of period performance styles.

McGegan's sometimes impish sense of humour informed the evening. However, one could sense it being tested before a note was played, when he turned around on the podium waiting for almost a minute for some insolent electronic interference in the hall to be snuffed out.

The conductor presented Haydn's vision with an appealing directness, right from that early shout of C major when Auckland Choral exclaimed "and there was light". Throughout, he did much to lighten the choral singing, while allowing full-voiced splendour to break out in The heavens are telling.

Impossibly catchy tunes rolled in from Robin Tritschler's elegantly sung first aria, leading into the rollicking chorus of "a new created world".

The Irish tenor was one of a trio of fine soloists.

Jonathan Lemalu launched proceedings, with dramatically voiced accounts of fiery skies and thunder leading to some rather cheeky and cheery triplets - Haydn's irrepressible humour at work.

Lemalu was very much the tusitala or teller of tales, often to the expansive fortepiano of Douglas Mews. He delivered oratory, but also tenderness, thrilling us with a daring bottom D to catch the wrigglesome worm being described by Haydn.

Madeleine Pierard was totally assured in her demanding arias, smiling appropriately as she sang "The marv'llous work behold amaz'd" and beaming up to an unflurried top C.


Doves cooed with florid sweetness when she ornamented her "On Mighty Pens" and Haydn's "soft enchanting lays" were all the more so, with the mezzo burnish of her voice.

What: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Saturday