LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Die Schöpfung
PERFORMER: Genia Kühmeier, Sophie Karthäuser (soprano), Toby Spence (tenor), Markus Werba (baritone), Dietrich Henschel (bass); Les Arts Florissants/William Christie
CATALOGUE NO: 395 2352
Recorded in Paris in July 2007, shortly after being presented by the same forces on tour, Haydn’s magnificent oratorio receives here a lively and considered reading. Christie’s period-instrument orchestra provides colour and character, while he ensures a sense of drama and harmonic direction, lovingly homing in on the imaginative detail of Haydn’s picturesque orchestral writing.


The soloists form a strong team. Soprano Genia Kühmeier is spirited, though when she blanches out her tone higher up it becomes ungainly and reveals some lapses in intonation. Toby Spence’s tenor solos, sung in perfectly articulated German, are forthright though he lacks a proper trill. Best of the three is Dietrich Henschel, whose baritone makes a properly lyrical impact throughout the part’s wide range and who combines vocal presence with a detailed concentration on text. It’s a luxury to have in addition Markus Werba and Sophie Karthäuser as Adam and Eve, vocal duties they perform with consummate aplomb. The choral work, too, is despatched with clean-edged skill and authority, and the sound quality is fresh and immediate in a highly responsive acoustic.

This is a new Creation of major quality, running close the best of existing versions, among which Karajan’s Berlin Philharmonic set will probably be preferred by those wanting a modern-instrument approach, and John Eliot Gardiner’s version by those who want the full period style.


George Hall