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A live, German-language recording of Haydn’s Die Schöpfung (The Creation) from one of the world’s acknowledged great conductors is always going to be of interest, the more so when, as far as I’m aware, he’s not previously recorded it. As you’d expect, Haitink brings all his authority, wisdom and long experience to bear on this performance to telling effect: nothing is wasted, nothing overstated, nothing misjudged. Haydn’s masterpiece unfolds before you with Haitink acting as your guide. Despite the modern and fairly large-scale forces, there is a delicacy and refinement about this performance which is utterly compelling. The three soloists are exceptional, with Mark Padmore especially engaging. Everyone, the Bavarian chorus and orchestra included, is obviously having a terrific time and it shows in the performance. Warmly recommended.

The English-language, live recording of The Creation was made in the resonant acoustics of Brixen Cathedral, Austria. Such a venue adds its own personality to a performance that is exceptionally well thought out, detailed and ever responsive to Haydn’s miraculous invention. In addition to four fine soloists (I especially admired David Stout’s Raphael), Steinaecker’s period band brings characterful, 18th-century colour to Haydn’s material, especially when that invention depicts specific animals or events such as the creation of the moon, stars and sun. If Steinaecker can occasionally push the tempi a little too hard for comfort, he does obtain fine results from his modestly sized chorus.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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