William Christie / Les Arts Florissants

Haydn: Die Schöpfung (The Creation)

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Virgin's recording of Die Schöpfung is most notable for the fine playing and singing of Les Arts Florissants, under William Christie's experienced leadership. The period-instrument performance is generally reserved and well mannered, which may not be the characteristics most necessary for this extraordinary, forward-looking, and sometimes eccentric piece to be fully effective. Christie's reading does occasionally catch fire, most often in the massed choral sections, which the choir performs with wonderfully dramatic attention to details of dynamics and phrasing. The orchestral playing for the most part is precise and nuanced; in Raphael's aria in part two, though, the trombones emit a jarring blast that must have been intended as tone painting and might have sounded appropriate in a performance that throughout had emphasized the work's wildness, but it is completely out of place in this polite context. Soprano soloists Genia Kühmeier as Gabriel and Sophie Karthäuser as Eva stand out for the fullness of their tone, absolute security, and vocal agility. Baritone Markus Werba as Adam is also fully convincing, and his duet with Karthäuser has a deft Papageno-Papagena lightness that makes it one of the most memorable moments in the recording. Toby Spence frequently sounds like an "English oratorio tenor," with a somewhat mannered delivery. Bass baritone Dietrich Henschel is the weakest soloist, with a low register that tends to drop out at the bottom. The sound is clear and spacious, but favors the soloists too strongly.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Die Schöpfung (The Creation), oratorio, H. 21/2
1 05:24 Amazon
2 03:12 Amazon
3 03:40 Amazon
4 02:07 Amazon
5 02:07 Amazon
6 00:46 Amazon
7 04:03 Amazon
8 00:34 Amazon
9 05:21 Amazon
10 00:13 Amazon
11 01:53 Amazon
12 00:43 Amazon
13 03:07 Amazon
14 03:43 Amazon
15 00:25 Amazon
16 07:37 Amazon
17 02:16 Amazon
18 00:31 Amazon
19 06:39 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Die Schöpfung (The Creation), oratorio, H. 21/2
1 00:27
2 03:11
3 03:03
4 00:58
5 03:28
6 00:25
7 08:27
8 04:11
9 09:22
10 02:48
11 08:15
12 00:27
13 03:24
blue highlight denotes track pick