ALBUM TITLE: Haydn
WORKS: The Creation
PERFORMER: Sarah Tynan (soprano), Jeremy Ovenden (tenor), Matthew Brook (bass-baritone); Handel and Haydn Society/Harry Christophers
CATALOGUE NO: COR 16135
Boston’s long-established Handel and Haydn Society first performed Part I of Haydn’s great oratorio on Christmas Day 1815, and the entire work four years later. This new recording was taped over two performances in May 2015, with the organisation’s music director, Harry Christophers, conducting its excellent period-instrument orchestra and its chorus of 40 voices. Of the various recordings by the group I have heard, this one is the finest.
Indeed it’s an exceptional account of the oratorio from all points of view. The Creation is here sung in English – a bilingual version was originally published and the composer is thought to have preferred the work to be sung in the audience’s language in English-speaking countries.
But what is wholly exceptional is the diction of both soloists and choir; you can hear every word without referring to the text printed in the booklet.
The soloists form a choice trio. Sarah Tynan sings her part flawlessly, her bright, clear soprano both accurate and expressive. Jeremy Ovenden’s tenor offers bold attack and vitality in the tone itself; he shapes Haydn’s lines with imagination and grace. Bass-baritone Matthew Brook brings enriched tone to bear on the lowest solo line, singing with firmness, lyricism and a powerfully communicative quality.
The choir also impresses with its bright, fresh tone, while the orchestra supplies distinctive colour and vibrancy; their playing is consistently alert.
Christophers judges tempos to a nicety, showing a keen response to the swiftly changing moods in the piece and observing its finest details.