Boston Baroque - Haydn Creation - Audio Video Club of Atlanta

Martin Pearlman and the members of Boston Baroque make a nice splash in this, their debut album for Linn Records after several decades of recording for Telarc. They couldn't have presented a better calling card. This is one of the finer Haydn Creations on record, being distinguished for the excellence of solo vocalists Amanda Forsythe (S), Keith Jameson (T), and Kevin Deas (B), and for Pearlman's direction, which keeps things moving along at an optimal pace and maintains a natural flow of recitative, aria or duet, and chorus without any awkward places, so that the total playing time (97 min.) seems perfect for this work. As an additional plus, the 96kHz / 24 bit recorded sound compliments the artistic purpose of the performance to perfection.

As is usually done, Pearlman has opted for the German libretto (1798), rather than use the English version that the librettist, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, prepared for publication at the same time as the original. Poor baron! Actually, his much-maligned grasp of the language was good enough to serve him well during a very long career as a diplomat. The real problem in setting an English text to the music lies in the differing syntax of the two languages. Consider, for instance, Eve's aria in Part III, "Teurer Gatte, dir zur Seite schwimmt in Freuden mir das Herz." That would be quite literally, and awkwardly in English, "Dearest spouse, at thy side swims in joy my heart." Scores of other examples could be cited. It's enough to defeat any translator. (I've often thought that German was the ideal language for conspiracy, from the way they withhold the full meaning of an utterance until the very last!)

In the present performance, all the music comes to life in vibrant color, not just the remarkably modern orchestration of the opening section with its depiction of primal chaos in the fleeting woodwind passages, some brilliant and others grey and quietly menacing, or the overwhelming sensation of the fortissimo in chorus and orchestra on the words "Und es war Licht" (And there was light!) which certainly achieves its wonted affect here. Not every critic in the past 200 years has been enchanted with Haydn's musical humor in his depiction of the animals - the lion's roar in forte double-bassoons and trombones, for example, or the slow, creeping progress of the worm.

On the other hand, the delicate touch of the composer is felt in passages such as those in Deas' bass-baritone aria "rauschend gleitet fort im stillen Tal der helle Bach" (Softly purling, glides through silent vales, the limpid brook) and the contrast between the depictions of the sunrise in Jameson's "In vollen Glanze steiget jetzt die Sonne strahlend auf" (In splendor bright the sun now rises) and the softer progress of the moon in the same aria: "Mit leisem Gang und sanftem Schimmer schleicht der Mond die stille Nacht hindurch" (With softer beams and milder light, the silver moon steps through the silent night). Sheer, matchless poetry, beautifully rendered and captured here.

Audio Video Club of Atlanta