Label: Hungaroton - SLPXL 31066-67,Deutsche Grammophon - SLPXL 31066-67 • Format: 2x, Vinyl LP Gatefold • Country: Hungary • Genre: Classical • Style: Classical
This classic performance of Haydn's greatest choral masterpiece was beloved tenor Fritz Wunderlich's last recording. He sings all of the arias, but he died before finishing the recitatives, which are here taken by Werner Krenn.
The recording is, in addition, one of Herbert von Karajan's finest, vastly better than his later digital remake. His interpretation is straightforward and impressively large in scale, but never pompous or sanctimonious which was Karajan's big problem in music of a religious character. The truth is, Haydn's consistently fresh and unpretentious invention acts as a positive anesthetic against bombast, and the composer himself once said that thinking of the Creator always made him irresistibly cheerful.
With The Creation, Haydn returned the favor. This, at last, is Karajan's great Schopfung, robustly remastered, and differing obviously from the live DG Salzburg recording in the presence of the Berlin rather than the Vienna Philharmonic. The change is all-important. The revelatory later version, consistently praised in these columns, here meets its real match. While the glory of the paradise garden was primarily the obvious beauty of its strings, the BPO brings its entire forces palpably to bear, horns far from diffident, woodwind soloists radiating bright and unexpected shafts of light.
In the Eden ofits seems, all manner of things will be well: in there is still a sense of Nun Ist Die Erste Pflicht Erfüllt - Joseph Haydn / Herbert Von Karajan / Berliner Philharmoniker / W lurking in the Chaos, a sharper, harder edge to its chords, real teeth in its leonine attack.
This is Karajan at his most inspired: I challenge anyone to find a more literally breathtaking No. Wunderlich's unique sensitivity to Nun Ist Die Erste Pflicht Erfüllt - Joseph Haydn / Herbert Von Karajan / Berliner Philharmoniker / W dramatic energy of each vowel and consonant within an effortlessly lyrical line creates unforgettable moments like the shift from sun to moonlight, and the first image of created Man.
Wunderlich's death, in mid-recording, means that, here and there, Walter Krenn is a substitute Uriel, cunningly matched in weight and timbre, though expressively distant. Here, the more overtly heroic Francisco Araiza has the edge.
Where Edith Mathis is both corporeal woman and archangel, Janowitz, younger and with her characteristic bloom untarnished, brings a truly other-worldly aura to Gabriel. Indeed, she scarcely touches down in the somewhat blurred fioritura passages. The sense of wonder, Lifes Railway To Heaven - Roy Acuff - Smoky Mountain Memories, in her steady, eloquent recitatives, the truly healing properties of her rhapsodic ''Heil'', to say nothing of her deliquescent ode to the nightingale, are incomparable contributions to this performance.
Walter Berry's true bass Raphael he descends to the lowest earth for his ''Gewurm'', as does Kurt Moll for Levine—also DG is a sober presence in contrast to Jose van Dam's later and livelier verbal responses and his unique Cousteau-eye view of the deeps. Berry's earthly counterpart is Fischer-Dieskau's Adam. Whereas van Dam focuses on the humility of the Creature, Fischer-Dieskau glories in Adam as Hero, triumphant in his leading forth of Eve, rhetorical in the solemnity of his vow-taking.
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