Day 49: The Creation (Part Two)

HaydnCD49This is the second part of Haydn’s “masterpiece” Die Schopfung (The Creation). It covers parts 2 & 3.

I don’t have much to add to what I posted yesterday. The performances are remarkable. It sounds like it took a master craftsman 2-3 years to compose this impressive oratorio. (By the way, if you do listen to The Creation, be prepared to get an earful of rolling Rs. This is opera, after all.)

Because it’s probably best appreciated in totality, I’ve offered another full performance of Haydn’s The Creation, courtesy of someone posting it to YouTube.

NOTE: This isn’t the performance to which I was listening today.

The clip below features Sally Matthews, soprano, Ian Bostridge, tenor, Dietrich Henschel, bass, and the London Symphony, conducted by Colin Davis.

Day 48: The Creation (Part One)

HaydnCD48Today’s musical selection is an oratorio titled Die Schopfung (“The Creation”), which — according to its entry on Wiki — is considered Haydn’s masterpiece…and a test of both his stamina and his faith in God.

Haydn was inspired to write a large oratorio during his visits to England in 1791–1792 and 1794–1795, when he heard oratorios of Handel performed by large forces. Israel in Egypt is believed to have been one of these. It is likely that Haydn wanted to try to achieve results of comparable weight, using the musical language of the mature classical style.

The work on the oratorio lasted from October 1796 to April 1798. It was also a profound act of faith for this deeply religious man, who appended the words “Praise to God” at the end of every completed composition. He later remarked, “I was never so devout as when I was at work on The Creation; I fell on my knees each day and begged God to give me the strength to finish the work.” Haydn composed much of the work while at his residence in the Mariahilf suburb of Vienna, which is now the Haydnhaus. It was the longest time he had ever spent on a single composition. Explaining this, he wrote, “I spent much time over it because I expect it to last for a long time.” In fact, he worked on the project to the point of exhaustion, and collapsed into a period of illness after conducting its premiere performance.

Haydn was between 64 and 66 when he composed this Continue reading

Day 47: The Seasons (Fall, Winter)

HaydnCD47 Today’s musical selection is the conclusion (Fall, Winter) of the massive oratorio that covers a year’s worth of seasons.

A song cycle about the seasons is nothing new, of course. Antonio Vivaldi’s (1678 – 1741) Four Seasons is likely the most well known of the genre. Certainly, the beloved violin concerto is the most famous work from the Italian.

The totality of yesterday’s CD and today’s (the complete Four Seasons from Haydn) is two hours and twenty minutes of music. Frankly, that’s beyond big. That’s massive.

If Haydn had done nothing else in his long, illustrious career, The Four Seasons, alone, would have been worthy of high praise. It really is a fine, fine oratorio, with terrific performances all around especially from soprano Helen Donath and tenor

But the instrumentation is superb as well.

And that’s why this works so well for me. If it had Continue reading

Day 46: The Seasons (Spring, Summer)

HaydnCD46There are more German words on the back of today’s CD sleeve than one is likely to hear in a movie about World War II.

Today’s Haydn composition is Die Jahreszeiten, which means The Seasons.

Apparently, according to said sleeve, this is just the “Beginning” of The Seasons, although I’m not sure what that means.

Just Spring? Just Winter?

Winter, Spring, Summer?

Googling is called for. (Actually Googling wasn’t needed. Ogling was. I just sifted through all of the German words and discovered that this recording covers Spring and Summer. That likely means the next CD will Continue reading