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Thread: Haydn's "The Creation"/"Die Schöpfung" for beginners

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    Senior Member Ras's Avatar
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    Default Haydn's "The Creation"/"Die Schöpfung" for beginners

    Last night I think something big happened in my life:
    I listened to one of my favorite composers' most famous works for the first time ever!
    I'm struggling with appreciating classical music with singing (with some notable exceptions) so I never got started with Haydn's choral music/sacred music - be it the two oratorios or the masses etc. etc.

    My virgin journey with Haydn's "Creation" was on a vessel from DG/Archiv with Paul McCreesh. -- this recording:

    HaydnMcCreesh.jpg

    But on this McCreesh recording the text was in English! Apparently adapted by Paul McCreesh himself if www.spotify.com is to be trusted in these matters…
    Isn't "The Creation/Die Schöpfung" supposed to be sung in German?

    One more question:
    I can hear loads of recordings on Spotify, but I would like to either get a recording with the texts or a book or a link to a trust worthy internet ressource with the text for this oratorium - any recommendations?

    Of course this thread can be used to discuss all matters concerning Haydn's "The Creation".
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    The original libretto of "The Creation", based on the King James Bible and Milton's Paradise Lost was in English, and Haydn acquired it during his tour of England. It was translated into German by Haydn's friend van Swieten, who followed the English text closely, but the work was first published in both languages. A similar thing happened, I believe, to Mendelssohn's Elijah/Elias a few decades later.

    Following Handel's success in popularising the genre, there was quite an appetite - and market! - for oratorios in Britain, so The Creation quickly joined Messiah as a favourite with audiences, as would Elijah eventually. It became quite popular for professional and amateur choirs to perform all three works in English, a tradition which must have lasted over a century.

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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    The Creation is a wonderful work. You got one with two sopranos. I like that. Some sets have Gabriel and Eve combined with the same soprano.

    Hayden's masses are quite wonderful. His operas are not so great (compared to other operas) but worth checking out.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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    I was introduced to The Creation through Robert Shaw. He corrected the awkward English in the libretto, like "the flexible tiger," with less clunky words. I believe McCreesh wasn't quite so radical in his revisions. So if you want the exact McCreesh text, you'll have to spring for the CD.

    Anyway, the advantage to me of getting used to hearing in English is, when I hear it in German, I pretty much know what they're saying without having to bury my head in the libretto, which is always an advantage.
    Last edited by Manxfeeder; Jan-11-2019 at 23:06.

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    It took me a long time to find a period recording of Haydn's The Creation that I liked, and I've finally settled on William Christies's Virgin recording, with Les Arts Florissants. It's a very good bargain too, at only $8.99 on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Haydn-Die-Sch...haydn+creation.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5RHDwdaanQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeRB...aqI0IqCmLN-FWU

    John Eliot Gardiner is excellent too, in both The Creation & The Seasons. I think Gardiner is underrated as a conductor of Haydn choral music. His Haydn Masses are first rate, & among the best in the catalogue, IMO. If you compare Gardiner's "The Creation" to Karajan's famous recording, I expect you'll hear how badly Karajan drags the music, even though he has excellent singers:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nshktwoonIc
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTGOrfPDNJI

    Sigiswald Kuijken's The Creation makes another excellent choice. I find Kuijken is often at his very best in Haydn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbWsmPiuBNo. Christopher Hogwood's version is worth hearing too, but it's in English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH5KM700AlQ. I've not heard McCreesh's, nor Rene Jacobs' either--though Jacobs' The Seasons is excellent. Nor have I heard Harry Christopher's recording in Boston, but it sounds good on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xptFJaWdmbU.

    On modern instruments, Adam Fischer is excellent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIpSNMQZH9M. There's also an old DG recording from Igor Markevitch that's interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz2gFyNO-ow. The old Philips recording by Eugen Jochum is worth hearing too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhd9...NwclHQ5qE1HsxY. Two first class Haydn conductors, Sir Colin Davis and Leonard Bernstein, have made excellent recordings as well, if you want to do more sampling:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVLDTF9s9HY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vafm...8ADB12474C03CA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rMnegvHxXc

    My two cents.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jan-12-2019 at 02:20.

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    Senior Member Ras's Avatar
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    Thank you, gentlemen - very helpful posts!

    So the short and long of it is that the original English libretto is lost and we have a German translation or adaption that has been adapted back into English again later. Hmmm, that's an interesting back story.

    I'll be listening to some of the many recordings available on Spotify and then buy one I like to get the libretto hopefully in both English and German.
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Please note McCreesh has also recorded 'The Seasons' in English too. Unfortunately in his Creation he has chosen to use non-English soloists which, although very good singers, don't give us quite the purity of pronunciation we need. Most odd decision that.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jan-12-2019 at 09:55.

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    For a Creation in German Karajan is pretty unbeatable unless you want period instruments. Someone mentions he drags the music? Not on my CDs anyway. And the line-up of soloists is awesome
    Last edited by DavidA; Jan-12-2019 at 10:42.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    For a Creation in German Karajan is pretty unbeatable unless you want period instruments. Someone mentions he drags the music? Not on my CDs anyway. And the line-up of soloists is awesome
    Just remember, Karajan recorded two of them. I bought the wrong one, the second one, which is so slow, it's less about creation and more about evolution. I've been trying to sell it to used CD stores for eight years, and they won't be fooled; they keep kicking it back.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Manxfeeder View Post
    so slow, it's less about creation and more about evolution.
    Great line! Bravo!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    For a Creation in German Karajan is pretty unbeatable unless you want period instruments. Someone mentions he drags the music? Not on my CDs anyway. And the line-up of soloists is awesome
    I will probably be buying a period recording, yes, I think maybe Rene Jacobs on Harmonia Mundi:

    HaydnJacobs.jpg
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ras View Post
    I will probably be buying a period recording, yes, I think maybe Rene Jacobs on Harmonia Mundi:

    HaydnJacobs.jpg
    I gave Hacobs Seasons which is really good. His creation was not so well reviewed, however.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jan-14-2019 at 17:06.

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    I have this one, quite good.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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