Haydn visited London
on two occasions in 1791 and 1794 and
heard Handel’s oratorio The Messiah
which had a powerful impact on him.
When Haydn read a German translation
of Liddell’s (or Lindley’s) text of
The Creation which had been adapted
from parts of the Book of Genesis
and Milton’s Paradise Lost
he was sparked into composing the oratorio.
We are told that the sixty-six year
old Haydn approached the composition
of The Creation with considerable
religious fervour and a passion he had
rarely displayed until then.
Haydn was nearing the
end of his life when he composed The
Creation. At a time when his greatest
symphonies and finest string quartets
were behind him it is certainly a work
containing many examples of his creative
genius. Through The Creation Haydn
was able to give voice to his profound
religious feelings. Contained in its
pages is some of the noblest music found
in the post-Handel oratorio. Eminent
music writer David Ewen has described
it as "a tone poem (more than half
a century before Liszt devised the form)
describing chaos being resolved into
order, darkness into light."
specialist, the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt
gives a suitably reverent and expertly
shaped performance of The Creation.
I particularly enjoyed the lively rhythms
and forthright choruses from the Arnold
Schoenberg Choir who perform a particularly
rousing rendition of the mighty chorus
The heavens are telling the glory
of God which is undoubtedly one
of the scores most celebrated pages.
uses three very contrasting soloists,
two of whom take on dual-roles. Christian
Gerhaher, the prize-winning German baritone,
is superbly cast in the parts of Raphael
and Adam and in Raphael’s aria Now
heaven in fullest glory shone proves
rich, brooding and intense. Gerhaher
is strong and elegant in another
of Raphael’s arias Rolling in foaming
billows which shows Haydn’s lyricism
of the highest inspiration.
In Gabriel’s aria the
pastoral With verdure clad the fields
appear, which is one of the
most celebrated arias in oratorio literature
the German soprano Dorothea Röschmann
gives a suitably expressive and stately
account. Uriel’s aria In native worth
and honour clad glows splendidly
with superb singing and a strong sense
of drama from Michael Schade the Swiss
tenor, raised in Germany and now living
in Canada. Perhaps the highlight of
the release is Adam and Eve’s beautiful
and heart-rending love duet, By thee
with bliss, O bounteous Lord which
is sung by Gerhaher and Röschmann
with tenderness and consummate passion.
scrupulous interpretation has precision
and vitality in a most persuasive account.
There is almost an air of taking the
proceedings too seriously with a deficit
of the highest level of passion which
just prevents the recording becoming
a ‘classic’. The recorded sound is clear
and well-balanced and the booklet includes
will be in their element with this release.
A very fine performance of one of Haydn’s