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Die Schöpfung (The Creation) Hob. XXI:2
- Oratorio for solo voices, chorus and orchestra (1765)
Malin Hartelius (soprano)
Lothar Odinius (tenor)
Anton Scharinger (bass)
Reinhart Vogel (fortepiano)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken/Enoch zu Guttenberg
rec. Saarländischer Rundfunk Saarbrücken, 1998 (exact date
and location not given)
B108025 [38:00 + 65:06]
Recorded in 1998,
this release seems to have made little impact in a fairly well
stocked market place for Haydn’s choral masterpiece Die
Schöpfung. Enoch zu Guttenberg took on
the Chorgemeinschaft Neubeuern in 1967 and turned what was
then a small group of amateur singers into a first-rate ensemble.
Within only a few years, Guttenberg led his choir to international
recognition with multiple tours of Europe and South America.
The Chorgemeinschaft has been awarded a number of prizes and
has given repeated and successful guest performances at Europe’s
major musical venues. Guttenberg served as First Guest Conductor
of the MDR Orchestra for several years and has led such orchestras
as the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, the NDR Symphony, the Saarbrücken
Radio Symphony, the Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique de Paris
and other international ensembles.
was pleasantly surprised to find this recording is something
of a sleeper. The recording, a co-production with Radio Saarbrücken
is rich and full, set in a nice acoustic, and with excellent
balance between a marvellous choir, a crack orchestra, and
a strong set of soloists. Performed with a modern orchestra,
the approach nonetheless applies ‘historically informed’ restraint
in the use of vibrato, especially with the strings. Recitatives
are accompanied with fortepiano like many other more deliberately
authentic versions. Tempi are good, with timings closely
comparable with, for instance, Nikolaus Harnoncourt on his
live 2003 recording with Concentus Musicus Wien on Deutsche
Harmonia Mundi – the one with the appallingly cheesy ‘creation
planner’ cover design.
I have said, the soloists are almost entirely strong. Soprano
Malin Hartelius has a gorgeous voice and deserves a mention.
The bass Reinhart Vogel is also excellent, though his attempts
at characterisation very occasionally lead to mannered sounding
vagueness. He’s very good when singing conventionally, but
sounds a wee bit forced when cutting out the vibrato, and
the very lowest register could have some more power to be
perfect in this piece. I was disappointed that his range
didn’t allow for a witty downward turn on ‘das Gewürm’ at
the end of disc 2 track 8, although the rasping brass for
the lion’s roar is a marvellous touch, and Vogel sings with
grand authority on the whole.
have played in the orchestra for this piece on a number of
occasions, and the flute part has to be one of every player’s
favourites. The winds of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester
Saarbrücken are very good indeed, and Haydn’s wonderful novelty
moments are well executed, like the bassoon fart on ‘Den
Boden drükt der Tiere Last’. The
important timpani are well captured although are not as crisp
as they might have been, though this is a detail of taste – informed
by years of exposure to period performances and recordings.
The reference I
have been using has been mostly that of Nikolaus
Harnoncourt, which is a bit like comparing chalk with cheese – Harnoncourt
of course goes full out for the period interpretation, and
while highly dramatic, eschews effects beyond those notated
in the score.
The budget Naxos
version with Andreas Spering comes highly recommended, and most
recently there is that Archiv recording with Paul
McCreesh which has to be a challenge to all comers. Robert
Shaw on Telarc has to be another strong contender for a modern
orchestra recording. Presentation with this Farao release is
very good, with full texts in German and English and useful
notes. In my humble opinion, this recording with Enoch zu Guttenberg
can stand among the best. If the conductor had been a Sir Simon
Rattle or a Von Karajan we would no doubt all have been going ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over
the thing for ages, but as it is you could probably drop it
into a blind listening test, keep everyone guessing and have
your secret safe until distributing the answers at the end.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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