Roderich Kreile

Schöpfungsmessen

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You have to look at the German-language tracklist to see what you're getting here: not two separate "Creation Masses," but the late Haydn Mass in B flat major, H. 22/13 ("Schöpfungsmesse"), composed in 1801, along with a mass by Salzburg-based composer Luigi Gatti. This is not an original work but an adaptation of Haydn's oratorio The Creation, with texts from the mass fitted to musically and liturgically appropriate melodies. This work, rediscovered only recently, was apparently one of a number of sacred adaptations of secular works that appeared around this time; annotator Dorothea Schröder speculates that they could have been attempts to raise the appeal of church music by including some of the famous melodies of the day. The project is intriguing, even if a bit odd; Haydn's melodies are as gorgeous as ever, but Gatti has to do some imaginative text-setting to get the words of the mass to fit. Listen to the center of the Credo, where Jesus is incarnated and crucified; the Crucifixus text intriguingly flows out of the Incarnatus, with the break not coming until the words "passus et sepultus est." It's hard to know whether Gatti was simply making a virtue of necessity here, but the entire piece offers an interesting window into how the early nineteenth century heard the words of the Catholic mass. The Haydn mass itself is a much more common item, but this is one of the happiest outcomes of the ongoing series of choral works featuring the Dresdner Kreuzchor, joined here by the Dresden Philharmonic and a quartet of soloists. The choir is superbly smooth, keeping even the sopranos' perilous leaps to high B flat in the Haydn under control. The soloists give thick, dramatic readings of Haydn's texturally simple but harmonically daring settings, and the entire reading is Beethovenian or even Schubertian, with warmth combined with long lines and exquisitely accurate singing. Enjoyable for anyone and beautifully recorded, this is a strong pick, especially for the Haydn enthusiast.

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