Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although The Creation is no stranger to period-instrument performance, two in particular spring to mind as particularly outstanding. The first of these is Christopher Hogwood's on L'Oiseau-Lyre, which is in English and remains the only version to assemble the huge forces for which Haydn actually wrote, with singularly thrilling results. Second, there is Hengelbrock on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, who demonstrated that at least on recordings the music can sound just as big and colorful, but without extensive doubling of instrumental parts. In his version of The Seasons, René Jacobs accomplished a similar feat, and so does this newcomer, even outdoing Hengelbrock in wringing
every last drop of color from Haydn's perennially fresh orchestration. All of the other period performances, including Brüggen, Weil, Harnoncourt (twice), Kuijken, and Gardener, stand at some remove from these three.
Andreas Spering has a lot going for him right from the beginning: crack vocal and instrumental forces, a strong lineup of soloists, and an excellent German radio production that sounds fabulous...This account of Chaos must stand as the most creepy and desolate on disc, the music still truly revolutionary and modern even at this late date. Spering takes time to make every detail tell: the sudden brass interjections, the startling clarinet run leading to the recapitulation, the muted strings and soloistic writing for timpani. Spering rightly treats the piece Romantically, allowing plenty of opportunities for rhetorical emphasis, as at the thrilling eruption of light and the ensuing recitative, taken a bit slower and more grandly than usual. But there's nothing mannered or unduly exaggerated: everything is dictated by the sense of the text. The chorus obviously relishes the words and sings as though they really mean something.
There are too many outstanding details to list completely. The concluding choruses of all three parts combine blazing brass with exceptional contrapuntal clarity. Sunhae Im and Hanno Müller-Brachmann make a charming Adam and Eve. The latter hasn't the steadiest of baritone voices, particularly in his lower register (as I noted in his recent recording of Bach's B minor Mass for Naxos), but he does surprisingly well in Raphael's big Part 2 aria "Nun scheint in vollem Glanze der Himmel", and tenor Jan Kobow turns in an excellent "In Native Worth" (as it's known in English). Spering somehow manages to play the living daylights out of the great duet with chorus at the center of Part 3, which Tovey called the greatest single movement that Haydn ever wrote, without making an anti-climax out of the following Adam and Eve duet and the big closing ensemble, with its dazzling coloratura "Amens". In short, from just about every possible standpoint, this is as fine a performance of this work as I hope to hear, one that at every turn reveals the miraculously undying youthfulness of Haydn's inspiration. Now on to the The Seasons, please!
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
The Creation, H 21 no 2 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Jan Kobow (Tenor),
Christine Wehler (Alto),
Hanno Müller-Brachmann (Baritone),
Sunhae Im (Soprano)
Cologne Vocal Ensemble,
Written: 1796-1798; Vienna, Austria
Length: 104 Minutes 22 Secs.
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