Haydn: Die Schöpfung (The Creation)
LABELS: LSO Live
WORKS: Die Schöpfung (The Creation)
PERFORMER: Sally Matthews (soprano), Ian Bostridge (tenor), Dietrich Henschel (baritone); London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra/Colin Davis
CATALOGUE NO: LSO 0628 (hybrid CD/SACD)
This recording of Haydn’s great oratorio is Sir Colin Davis’s first, made live during performances at the Barbican in October 2007. It’s a work to which he brings special qualities.
In the extraordinary dislocations of the opening Representation of Chaos, there’s an almost Beethovenian weight and power, allied to pre-echoes of Berlioz in the sheer strangeness of the music’s progress. His response to the actual sound of the piece is beautifully managed throughout, with Haydn’s sense of wonder coming vividly alive.
The LSO is on unimpeachable form, with many thrilling individual touches, and overall there’s as much colour and drama in their playing as in any of the modern instrument versions. The amateur chorus is not quite so good. Though they provide a strong presence, there’s a clear challenge to the sopranos in particular that is not always met with confident ease; the result is not invariably smack in the centre of the note.
Of the soloists, the finest is Dietrich Henschel, whose measured and humane performance is certainly advantaged by the text being sung in German on this occasion (though the contemporary English translation has an almost equal validity). Soprano Sally Matthews moves with skill and sensitivity around the notes, but there’s a suggestion of caution about her performance. Tenor Ian Bostridge is certainly alert to the text and gives a well-manicured account, but his tone is reedy rather than refulgent.
The sound is excellent, covering the entire picture while simultaneously setting out plenty of detail. George Hall