Haydn - Die Schöpfung
Sylvia McNair, Donna Brown sops Michael Schade ten Rodney Gilfry, Gerald Finley bars Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Archiv 477 6327AGP2 Buy now
(101’ · DDD)
With Gardiner’s first down-beat it’s obvious that Chaos’s days are numbered. Not that ‘days’ (strictly speaking) are in question till the mighty words have been spoken, and then, in this performance, what an instantaneous blaze! No premonitory intimation (of pre-echo in the old days whereas now even the faintest stirring in the ranks of the choir will do it), but a single-handed switching-on of the cosmic power-grid and a magnificently sustained C major chord to flood the universe with light. This is one of the great characteristics here: the superbly confident, precise attack of choir and orchestra. Enthusiasm, then, in plenty; but how about the mystery of Creation? It’s certainly part of the aim to capture this, for the bass soloist’s ‘Im Anfange’ (‘In the beginning’) with pianissimo chorus has rarely been so softly and so spaciously taken: the Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters is a veiled, flesh-creeping presence, felt again in the first sunrise and the ‘softer beams with milder light’ of the first moon. Even so, others have incorporated this element more naturally.
Gardiner has an excellent Raphael in Gerald Finley and gains from having extra singers for Adam and Eve, especially as the Eve, Donna Brown, brings a forthright style, doubly welcome after the somewhat shrinking-violet manner and breathy tone of Sylvia McNair’s Gabriel. On the whole, Gardiner is sound: yet his is a fun Creation and a real enrichment of the library. Against others of comparable kind, Gardiner stands firm as an easy first choice: a re-creator of vision, a great invigorator and life-enhancer.