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I think this is an excellent recording of The Creation, unusually but very successfully sung in English. Paul McCreesh is best known for his recreations of rather earlier works and events, but he brings a fabulous life, energy and sensitivity to this Haydn masterpiece. Never afraid of employing very large forces, here McCreesh directs a choir and orchestra of over a hundred members each, often giving a thrilling impact, but also capable of great tenderness and spiritual depth. The soloists are uniformly excellent and their ensemble singing is wonderful and truly affecting in places.

The huge majority of recordings of the Creation are sung in German, although Haydn conceived it as a work to be sung in either German or English. This is partly because the surviving English libretto is a rather stilted translation from the German, and McCreesh has "fine-tuned" it for this recording. I think he has done an excellent job and this combined with the quality of the performance make it an immense pleasure to hear and fully understand a profound statement of faith by one of the greatest of all composers.

This version won't replace my dearly-loved recording (in German) by John Eliot Gardiner Haydn, J.: The Creation, but it makes a wonderful companion to it, and I recommend it very warmly.
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The libretto of "The Creation" comes primarily from Genesis Chapter 1, Milton's Paradise Lost and the book of Psalms. Haydn was given a copy of this libretto written in English by an anonymous author while in London on one of his trips. (This libretto has however unfortunately been lost). It was re-written by Baron Gottfried van Swieten, the same man who was instrumental in having Mozart arrange some of the works of Handel. Haydn actually originally wanted to disseminate this work in both an English and in a German version. Sweiten translated the libretto from English into German and later back translated the German into English and further adapted the English prose to Haydn's musical setting. The original score of "The Creation" was originally published in a bilingual version with however a problematic English text ( which kept the work from being performed in English most of the time). The English was written in above the German version in the original score. According to Haydn's original intentions the work should have been performed in English for English speaking audiences. And Haydn's original intentions are now finally realized and really pay off in this splendid completely re-edited English text version by McCreesh. The emotional word-painting and the triumphant sublimity of the work come across brilliantly in McCreesh's revision of the text and interpretation of the musical score, for any English speaking listener. The pastoral emotionalism and all the invocations in music of nature's creatures finally have seemed to come fully alive for me (one who doesn't speak German and usually has to follow with difficulty the sung text in the German versions with the English translations).
McCreesh uses the original forces that Haydn expected in this work: triple winds, double trumpets and timpani, and a large body of strings and choristers. The result, is glorious. The eruption of light, the first sunrise, and the pivotal choruses that close each section are magnificent both in sound and execution. So is "Chaos", with its strange muted colors and harmonies.
The soloists are all very strong, Sandrine Piau as Gabriel is very fine,Tenor Mark Padmore as Uriel sings well with a touch of a Handel oratorio feeling. The bass Neal Davies is exceptional as Raphael - the largest and most important solo part. Peter Harvey and Miah Persson are warm and almost touchingly human as Adam and Eve. Vocally, and orchestrally this is one of the finest and most emotionally enjoyable and eye-opening performances of The Creation.
This is a superb recording with very impressive and full sumptous acoustics, especially in the choruses. This is a magnificent recording; and this newly edited English text (great attention has been paid in both keeping familar words, and adapting the text to vocal phrasing and fluid syntax)will let you see into the workings of the music and Haydn's intentions better than the German if you are not a German speaker. Like me you may finally say "Oh so that's what's Haydn is doing here musically". After all these years I see many things differently in this work as a result of McCreesh's fine work on the text and in his conducting of the music. A real eye-opener emotionally. This recording won the Gramophone Choral Award.
Another similar English libretto ( not the same editing as McCreesh)on original instruments is the Hogwood recording see:Haydn: The Creation
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It has become `de rigueur' for choral works to be performed in their original languages: For example, where once Brahms' German Requiem or Haydn's Creation were regularly sung in English- often by large northern choirs - nowadays it seems that no-one dares to sing them in anything other than German.

The fact is that, in the case of The Creation, the English version has as much validity as the German, and it would appear that Haydn had both languages in mind when setting his text: all the more reason to have a recording in English.

Similarly, where once works such as Bach's B Minor Mass would have been given by huge choirs, modern `historically informed' practise tends towards paring down the forces, even to the extreme of having a single singer for each vocal line.

I feel there should be a range of ways of performing the established choral classics, just as I don't think that period instrument groups should have exclusive ownership of anything written before 1850- but that's a bigger debate. Suffice to say that there are precedents for performing The Creation with a large choir and orchestra, so why not?

I know the English text fairly well and for all its faults, and despite the latest trends, it has developed its own currency over the years. Mc Creesh has done a reasonable job in transposing some of the more awkward phrases and providing clearer translations elsewhere, but by and large it's little more than a matter of taste. If you're used to the words, be prepared for a few surprises.

This is a beautifully played and sung recording with McCreesh eliciting a clear intelligent reading of the piece from the Gabrieli Consort and Players which manages to hit the right emotional response. No unwieldiness either from the larger vocal forces.

My main quibble however is with the female soloists. With so many superb British singers, why, in a recording which makes such a great deal out of being sung in English do we have two sopranos Sandrine Piau (French) and Miah Persson (Swedish) whose diction leaves a lot to be desired? Persson almost succeeds, but loses her idiomatic English in her lower register, whilst Piau mangles her words throughout to the extent that I had to follow her sections in the enclosed libretto. That said, the purely musical performance of each is excellent, and the balance between the solo parts and the character of all the solo voices, male and female, works well.
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on 1 January 2014
Haydn authorized an English version (He had a businessman's eye!) and McCreesh tidies up some of the original lyricist Van Sweeten's quaint phrases, as he explains in his booklet note. To my mind, it has freshness without the irritating archaisms.

The CD performance itself is simply outstanding: it emerged before the memorable large-scale Proms performance of 2009, which itself replicated early performances done during Haydn's lifetime.

The soloists, pace an above reviewer, are all very good. I would say that Mark Padmore is outstanding; what a story teller!

The choir and orchestra are also stars; the timpani are particularly punchy, and the grandeur and abundant range of Haydn's masterpiece is vividly conveyed.

It is as vital as a live performance and, because it is in English, has greater immediacy.

All in all, there is none better on record.
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on 9 January 2014
These days we have a wide-range of choices for recordings of The Creation. We can choose between English and German text, between small-scale chamber-size forces and much larger forces, and between period and modern instruments. So where does this fit? English text (revised by the conductor to remove some of the odd-English of the original English language version), large forces using period instruments and performance style. If this is how you want to hear Haydn's wonderful composition, then I don't think you will find better.

Throughout tempi are very well judged, never too slow and not too fast. The recording is excellent, with soloists well balanced against choir and orchestra. The sound stage is very good and credible - noticeably better than Rattle for example. Dynamic range is excellent.

I find myself constantly coming back to this performance in preference to several others.
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on 18 November 2014
Your other reviewers seem to have been won over completely by this recording. I would agree as far as the instrumentals and choruses go; they are wonderful, thrilling. The effects of light, shade, movement, swirling etc. made me feel as though I were watching a film of the Creation going on in my head, all very vividly. I do, however, have some big reservations. I can't help feeling that it is slightly 'gimmicky', perhaps trying a little too hard to reproduce what McCreesh thinks Haydn intended. The recording technique is quite poor as far as the soloists are concerned; it sounds as though they were standing too far from the microphone, especially in the first bass solo, track 2, which is barely audible. That would probably work fine as a live performance but personally, I don't like having to adjust my volume and equaliser constantly to keep up with the vagaries of the recording.
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on 13 November 2011
There is so much good about this Creation - in English as originally performed - that it seems mean to quibble. The choir, orchestra and general brio and enthusiasm of this performance are superb, but why oh why do we have to have two non-English soloists? Are there no English sopranos? As it is Sandrine Piau mangles her English and her diction is far from clear, although she improves as the performance progresses. And she cannot vocally compete with Janowitz on the Karajan (in German). Persson is much better but why record the Creation in English with non-English sopranos when others could have done the job in clearer English. The men are much better in this respect but then they are British. But on the whole this is an enthusiastic and musical performance, with gratefully large forces as Haydn intended, superbly recorded. The best version in English although Karajan remains the best overall but in German by virtue of his soloists.
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