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Die Schopfung... by Richard Wagner!
on 22 January 2013
A much-lauded version, and I admire Karajan's great recordings such as Parsifal and Gotterdammerung, but little did I realise until I 'accidentally bought' this recording (not from Amazon I hasten to add) that he also offers us a previously unknown Wagner masterpiece called "Die Schopfung" (excuse the missing umlauts). Joking (?) aside this is a turgid mess. It takes ages to get going, as if God is having a good snooze, and when it does finally burst into some semblance of life, almost immediately disappears into disconnected gobbets of beautifully sung nothingness. Yes Janowitz is in gorgeous voice, and indeed Wunderlich had a demonstration-quality German tenor voice that no longer seems to exist, and it's sad that he died so young, though here he is cold and prissy (to my ears), and there are Fischer-Dieskau and (somewhere) Ludwig to hear or in her case see on the cast list. But it is an inorganic, detached, unidiomatic pain from start to finish. McCreesh is the one to buy - from your helpful local high street CD shop of course - with the English version to boot. All that Karajan sludge worked up over numerous studio sessions with the performances phoned in from the living, the dead and the uninterested, is surely well past its sell-by. ADDENDUM: a couple of commenters have accused my review of being 'bizarre'. What IS bizarre is that the self-selecting reviewers who give this vaguely interesting document 5*s is that they obviously don't realise what a klutz Karajan is in this kind of repertoire. That is why they bought the recording in the first place. Generally speaking his recordings murder Haydn and Mozart, and I only bought this on the strength of the wildly enthusiastic reviews here. But lo and behold we get Karajan's trademark late romantic sludge, with no energy or drive, with ponderous overemphasis that actually sometimes makes Haydn sound like an idiot. What's more because this is not remotely a performance, but is instead an edit of takes spread over an extended period, the stellar cast do not gel, but sound suspended in a sort of zombie world. If I persuade one person to buy McCreesh instead of this my purpose is served. And no in response to one commenter: I don't think Wagner wrote Die Schopfung: but Karajan seems to. Haydn's Creation: Karajan's Destruction.