by, May-14-2011 at 19:58 (450 Views)
If you haven't already heard Haydn's 'Creation', listen to it now!
The prelude is a "representation of chaos". However, Haydn's "representation of chaos" is more technically subtle than chaotic. It begins in C minor (or does it?!) and almost immediately drifts unpredictably to outrageously remote keys. I would argue that this moment marks the beginning of the breakdown of tonality, not Wagner's Tristan. The formal process of moving to the dominant has been thrown out of the window and it no longer matters where the music goes as long as it leaves the listener confused and unsettled!
The first recitative perfectly describes the early universe as being, "without form and void". The choir enter so quietly, whispering the words, "and God said let there be light: and there was LIGHT!!". The word "light" snaps the music into C major with double forte dynamics. The result is quite orgasmic on account of the nature of the previous music. Truly one of the greatest moments in choral music.
The rest of 'Creation' takes the listener on a journey through the creation myth. Each aria and chorus expertly reflect each stage in the story. My personal favorite is No.22 when the Bass lists the animals: the majestic lion, the nimble stag, the noble steed. Then it gets delightfully ridiculous, portraying cattle with an pastoral Andante 6/8, then scurrying insects, and for a grand finale (wait for it) the sinuous worm!!
'Creation' is (to me) a man looking at nature and documenting his sheer pleasure and delight at what he sees. He also praises the guy he believes to have done all this with rousing Handelian choruses. I don't mind at all that this work was inspired by religion. Haydn's faith made him happy and it shows in 'Creation'. If mythology makes a good-natured and benign person happy, it can be no bad thing.