Haydn: The Creation

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: The Creation
PERFORMER: Ruth Ziesak (soprano), Herbert Lippert (tenor), René Pape, Anton Scharinger (bass)Chicago SO & Chorus/Georg Solti
This new Creation has several things in common with the Tafelmusik/ Bruno Weil recording (Sony) which I reviewed in February: it’s in German, it uses the new performing edition by Peter Brown, and it even reproduces the same note by HC Robbins Landon. More significantly, once again the octogenarian Solti shows himself open to new ideas about Haydn interpretation brought by ‘period’ orchestras such as Tafelmusik. His speeds are nearly as fast as Weil’s ( the slower numbers are rarely treated as less than Andante), there is tasteful ornamentation of solo lines, and the orchestra plays with buoyant clarity throughout. Perhaps inevitably for a live recording, there is occasional untidiness of ensemble, but the warmth of feeling which Solti brings to the music is certainly preferable to the rather clipped style of his earlier Chicago recording (from 1981, when he took eight minutes longer over the work – who says conductors get slower with age?). The charming Ruth Ziesak is the pick of the soloists; Herbert Lippert is also pretty good, and the two basses are competent but indistinguishable. If the choral singing is not quite as impressive as in other Chicago performances (the sopranos have a tendency to shrillness above the stave), it’s still full of life, and for once the engineers do give us a good chance of hearing it. Stephen Maddock