Haydn: The Creation

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Medici Arts
WORKS: The Creation
PERFORMER: Annette Dasch (soprano), Christoph Strehl (tenor), Thomas Quasthoff (bass-baritone); Vienna Chamber Choir; Austrian-Hungarian Haydn PO/Adam Fischer
CATALOGUE NO: 2057468 (NTSC system; PCM stereo; 16:9 picture format)

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This performance of Haydn’s great oratorio was recorded in the Baroque splendour of the Great Hall (now renamed the Haydnsaal) of Schloss Esterházy at Eisenstadt in Austria, one of the principal residences of the family in whose service Haydn spent the bulk of his career – though the work itself dates from his later, Viennese years.

Due to the size of the performing space it’s not on a mammoth scale though everything is in balance; in any case The Creation seems to be able to withstand a wide variety of approaches.

Here, the chamber choir is finely disciplined and light on its collective feet, the orchestra has good period manners and conductor Adam Fischer provides firm and keenly motivated direction.

The three soloists are more mixed. Soprano Annette Dasch is shrill in places and not always neat in her runs; worse, her singing suffers from intermittent intonation problems.

Tenor Christoph Strehl’s tone veers from the light and graceful to the insubstantial, and he too has the odd moment of vocal insecurity. Baritone Thomas Quasthoff is in a league of his own: there’s an intensity to his lyricism that rises to a sense of wonder as he contemplates the marvels of the natural world, and throughout his singing is purposeful and direct.

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The filming of this live concert is entirely straightforward and without any fancy camerawork. No extras attached to the DVD, but there’s a good general introduction to the piece contained in the accompanying booklet. George Hall