Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Joseph Haydn, William Christie, Les Art Florissants|
Haydn - Die Schöpfung (The Creation) / Kuhmeier, Spence, Henschel, Karthauser, Werba, Les Arts Florissants, Christie
Listen to Samples
Christie, Les Arts Florissant: Haydn: Schopfung: Wow, Does I
Dan Fee | Berkeley, CA USA | 12/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This wonderful CD set release snuck up on me. I am already a huge fan of the Handel Messiah previously recorded by Les Arts Florissants led by William Christie. LAF is an original instruments band which usually draws some pretty terrific vocal soloists for their various forays into a wide repertoire, and of course, that Handel Messiah was no exception to excellence. Then I was quite happy to add their recordings of the Mozart Requiem, and the Mozart Mass in c Minor to my fav shelves.
In each case, there was nothing pale or thin about their musical approach. If some controversy lingers around Christie and LAF, it is because they play and sing with such verve and color and freedom that tags like, operatic, or even, romantic, come to some listener's minds.
By the end of the performances, however, the tags no longer matter. What remains is simply the endless blessing of the music - Handel, Mozart, or now, Haydn. Like I was after hearing the Mozart Requiem, when I found myself longing to hear how they might do the Mass in c Minor, I am now anticipating some future bright day, when their performance of Haydn's Seasons oratorio might be offered up as a matched and shining musical light to their current reading of the Creation.
Now I have enjoyed other performers in this work.
Dorati, Munchinger, Marriner, Kubelik brought warmth and musical smiles, along with Robert Shaw in English in Atlanta, and a really old treasure, also in English - Frederick Waldman leading the Musica Aeterna orchestra and chorus with soloists like the young Judith Raskin. More recently, my two favs in this oratorio have been Frans Bruggen leading his original instrument band and chorus, and Andreas Spering leading his players, singers, and soloists - in super audio surround sound, no less. You know, of course, that I now add Christie and LAF to these heights of keep shelf commitment.
The band plays so well, and so inventively, and with such resounding involvement that, truly, I forgot completely that any period performance practice considerations mattered at all, any longer. This, too, is rather akin to the reactions I've had, listening to the Mozart religious music, or Handel's oratorio. The chorus is small, listed as 28 singers in the accompanying booklet. But they never sound too small, and believe me, they can vocally raise the roofs ever so joyously, impersonating angels who have just struck their golden harps to sing praise at the end of each day of creation. At the other end, they are still small enough to bring clarity of harmony and texture to all their parts. They blend well as a group, a quality that cannot be taken at all for granted.
Christie splurges, using five - yes that is, five - soloists. He has a soprano, tenor, and bass-baritone to be his angels, plus an additional baritone and soprano to be his Adam and Eve in part three. There is not a weak or so-so singer in the bunch. They excel in their solo work - in recitative, too. What? No waiting dutifully through the recitative, to get to the good arioso parts later? Nope. While I am not a native German speaker, so far as I can tell, they are each quite comfortable with the original German, and like telling the story as much as setting the scenes and praising God as Creator. In the repeated duet and trio passages that the composer so generously give them, the three angels speak and weave and blend, often cast in lovely highlights against a vigorous or floating choral background. Often, when we get to part three and Adam cooing to Eve, I lose just a tad of my former interest. The attitudes written for the First Couple are quaint, indeed. One has to overlook the antique filigree of their mutual adorations of one another's traditional sex and gender roles, not to mention the even more oblique warnings of the tenor angel that humans must avoid wanting to understand life and love, too well. This Adam and this Eve provoke nary a qualm, however. They are so committed to one another musically, in such varied colors and tones, that their music simply sweeps all before its tenderness and drama.
Like Spering and Bruggen, Christie takes lively tempos. But he is often more careful with soft inflections, setting off his large and larger moments with even more care than usual. Like the others at the top of the list, Christie and company offer us more phrasing and musical detail than we can list. The point is not just all the colors and interpretive details, but how well everything consistently flows and fits together.
This is the oratorio sung whole, and well, and so beautifully that Haydn's genius seems freshly minted and inexhaustible. Which, in fact, I believe it was - and is, still. You can go get this one, no fear. It will wear long and well, and deserves the high reputation it is about to get from among general listeners and vocal-choral aficionados. A holiday gift par excellence, then. Oh yes."
Christie is as exciting as ever, but his soloists are nothin
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 12/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"William Christie and his Les Art Florrisant forces are among the most acclaimed period ensembles in the world, and the conductor is particularly known for finding more surprises in familiar music than almost anyone except Harnoncourt (Marc Minkowki, also Paris based, is giving both a run for their money). This venture into Haydn, the group's first, is no exception -- if you are familiar with The Creation, every other bar brings a new accent or turn of phrase. At no point does Chrisite make you think of museums and dust. If anything, the often fierce accents (starting with thunderous thwacks from the timpani) are nerve-wracking, but there's plenty of charming nature painting. Oddly, in the midst of a generally brisk reading, quqite a few solo numbers are given a relazxed treatment -- the contrast isn't always sympatheitc. Ad lib ornamentation is added fairly freely to the vocal line.
As for the solo singers, onlly baritone Dietrich Henschel was known to me, and I msut say that as a crew they are underwhelming. The budget Naxos recording under Spering, also done in period style, features more aggreeable and often more characterful singing -- everyone here seems stiff despite the external applicaiton of thrills. On the other hand, the small orchestra and chorus are exemplary (assuming that you are used to the zingy, razor-wire tone of the violins). I think I'll stick with the Naxos set, but in the interests of full disclosure, no period performance comes close to the classic readings from Karajan and Bernstein -- the latter's Sony recording has brought me much joy for forty years.