Jordi Savall conducts Haydn's Die Schöpfung

Everything - recorded sound, performance standard, sheer élan - conspires to bring us a performance to overshadow all others

Jordi Savall conducts Haydn's Die Schöpfung

This new release has to be one of the truly great recordings of what is known in English as "Haydn's Creation". It is performed in German, as is quite right of course - performed with such drama, such rhythmic precision and such a grasp of the structure that it is both utterly captivating and potentially life-changing. Savall, although many of his recordings have been of shorter pieces, excels at  larger canvasses, too, as his Bach Matthäus-Passion at Versailles in 20xx showed beyond doubt.

When the Gramophone Awards came out this year, it turned out Classical Explorer had convered a disproportionate amount of them: our success rate is high, even if we do say so ourselves. And this recording will be one of the great recent successes . It is as near faultless as you can get. Here is a lovely (albeit short) promotional video:

Jordi Savall's history with Haydn dates back to 1960-64. Savall was studying in Barcelona: specifically, then, the Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross. That piece was recorded early on in Savall's discography: Creation had to wait until now.

Composed 1796-98, Haydn's masterpiece was first performed in 1799. Savall provides a brief but fascinating note that makes specific reference to the work's links to Viennese Freemasonry at the time, linking it with Mozart's Zauberflöte and teh finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

The opening representation of Chaos is magnificent in both power and subtlety. The raw sound of the period instruments of Le Concert des Nations. Recorded mid-pandemic (May 2021), it all seems remarkably pertinent; as does the hope provided by the fortissimo on "Licht" in the first chorus:

... and listen to how the chorus suavely phrases this well-known chorus: and listen ourt for the wonderful tenor Tilman Lichdi, who impressed me so much in the Périgord vert, France in 2018 with Ton Koopman and  the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (here's an aria from Part I, but Lichdi is just as impressive in "Mir wird und hoheit angetan" in Part III):

 ... while "The Heavens are telling," as it's known in English, is just an explosion of joy!. This chorus ends Part I:

Matthias Winckhler, who takes the parts of both Raphael and Adam, is particularly superb in his recitatives:

... and listen to how Winckhler and Savall take us to the darker regions of Haydn's score in the second part:

I wonder if there is a finer Gabriel/Eve than soprano Yeree Suh. Here she is in the guise of Gabriel in the aria, "Nun beut die Flur das frische Grün":

Certainly the highpoint in terms of sheer beauty has to be the duet between Adam and Eve (Suh and Winkhler) in the final part's "Von deiner Güt':

Savall's catalogue is famously vast, but this has to be one of his finest endavours. Everything - recorded sound, performance standard, sheer élan - conspires to bring us a performance to overshadow all others. Savall turned 80 last year; his music has the freshness of a twenty-something, but coupled with the wisdom of a lifetime's immersion in music.