Orchestra: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Conductor: Robert Shaw
Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
Number of Discs: 2
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Size: 401 MB
Gabriel – Dawn Upshaw
Uriel – Jon Humphrey
Raphael – John Cheek
Eva – Heidi Grant Murphy
Adam – James Michael McGuire
02. In the beginning, In the spirit, And God saw the light
03. Now vanished by the holy beams
04. And God made the firmament
05. What wonder doth his work reveal
06. And God Said: Let the waters
07. Rolling in foaming billows
08. And God said: Let all the earth bring forth grass
09. Now robed in cool refreshing green
10. And the heavenly host
11. Awake the harp
12. And God said: Let there be lights
13. In shining splendor
14. The heavens are telling
15. And God said: Let the waters bring forth
16. On mighty wings
17. And God created great whales
18. And the angels struck
19. In fairest raiment, The Lord is great
01. And God said: Let earth bring forth
02. Straight opening her fertile womb
03. Now shines the brightest glory
04. And God created Man
05. In native worth
06. And God saw everything
07. Fulfilled at last the glorious work/From thee, O Lord/Fulfilled at last the glorious work
08. In rosy mantle
09. By thee with grace
10. Now is our duty
11. Sweet companion!
12. O happy pair
13. Sing to God
I’m sold on it
I looked around for a new English language version of Haydn’s “Creation” to use for practice before I sang in the chorus for my local choral society’s performance of Haydn’s “Creation” earlier this year. I am not naturally drawn to Robert Shaw or his work, having been disappointed by him in recordings of Poulenc, Bach, Penderecki and other composers.
I wanted a new recording to replace the one I’d been listening to — Hogwood’s version. It was fine in a hyperactive English way. Many of the choruses were taken at presto and the enunciation of his very large group was never very clear. I considered Rattle and borrowed a copy from my local library. After hearing it I dismissed it from consideration, since I would not enjoy it over an extended period. I tried a couple German language versions, too. The famous Karajan has a starry quartet but is a might overdone in my book. Bruno Weil’s traversal if forgettable, as is Gardiner. I found someone willing to sell me the Shaw version for $15 which was a good deal even by resale shop standards.
I would agree with almost everything written in the Amazon review of this music and would add this: what makes this version sparkle, aside from lustrous singing by everyone involved, is Shaw’s deep understanding of Haydn and his performance method. Above all things, Josef Haydn was a moderate. He loved a good joke and even fell in love once, but his linchpin emotion was temperance and moderation. Performances of his music that go beyond this fail, in my opinion.
Shaw’s version uses judicious speeds and an approach that is consistent throughout. His soloists are all exceptional and I would point out the notable contributions of Heidi Grant Murphy and James McGuire as Eve and Adam, respectively. In performing this music this past Easter, I came to a better understanding of the role these two play in the Creation and the role they must have played in Haydn’s mind and soul. In particular, the duet with choral accompaniment “By thee with grace” is one of Haydn’s most inspired creations, floating above the Earth like fine mist on a humid morning.
Everything about this performance makes it one of the most treasurable venues for this music. On a final note, I must agree with the critical reviewer that was exasperated by Shaw’s score changes. This threw me greatly when I first began practicing with the well-known and time-tested Schirmer score. Still, this is a minor quibble in a recording so good in all respects. Unless you seek a German version of want a more dramatic approach, this version should satisfy you for years to come.