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Haydn: The Creation (Il Giardino Armonico)

Anna Lucia Richter (soprano), et al; Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini (Alpha Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

The Creation, Hob. XXI:2
Anna Lucia Richter (soprano), Maximilian Schmitt (tenor), Florian Boesch (baritone); Bavarian Radio Choir; Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
Alpha Classics ALPHA 567   99:19 mins (2 discs)


The Creation wasn’t Haydn’s last large-scale masterpiece (The Seasons and four of his late masses were still to come), but it seems to have been planned from the outset as the crowning achievement of his long career. The swirling mists of the opening ‘Representation of Chaos’, and the famous C major outburst on the words ‘And there was light’, were moments that he never surpassed. In a good performance such as this new one with Giovanni Antonini conducting the ensemble he founded some 35 years ago, The Creation remains an indelible experience. Antonini has a fine line-up of soloists, and they clearly enjoy themselves: the soprano Anna Lucia Richter and the tenor Maximilian Schmidt both have attractively light-toned voices, and Richter’s discreet embellishments are unfailingly musical; while the relish with which Florian Boesch intones a bottom D for the depiction of the slithering worm gets a quiet titter of laughter from the otherwise discreet audience.

Antonini handles such moments as the sunrise – essentially an ascending D major scale harmonised with extraordinary resourcefulness – very effectively; but the rising of the moon that follows isn’t quite mysterious enough. Haydn specifically instructs the harpsichord not to play during the latter passage, so that the music can be as hushed as possible. It would have been nice to have had a more imposing body of voices for the Handelian choruses, but the Bavarian Radio Choir acquits itself very well nevertheless.

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Misha Donat