Orchestra, Chorale, Chorus and Soloists conducted by Paul Goodwin
Franz Joseph Haydn, The Creation, HOB XXI:2
Mhairi Lawson, soprano; Thomas Cooley, tenor; Dashon Burton, bass-baritone
Haydn’s masterpiece, The Creation, majestically opens the 82nd Carmel Bach Festival. The performances feature the Festival’s entire company of musicians and will be sung in a Haydn-approved English translation.
Haydn considered The Creation his masterwork, the culmination of a long creative life that produced more than 100 symphonies, and a plethora of string quartets, operas, masses and other works.
With its dramatic gestures, bold orchestral colors and imaginative word painting, Haydn’s musical setting of the creation story is one of the best-loved works in the choral repertoire. From the creation of light to Adam and Eve’s love duet, Haydn brings to life the birds, beasts and angels as they rejoice in soaring, life-affirming music.
The radiance of The Creation is experienced through the overpowering majesty of the choruses, Haydn’s tremendous word-painting skill with which he creates his descriptive canvasses, and the brilliant orchestration the composer brought to his famous “London” symphonies and late Masses, here employed to even more powerful effect, especially in some of the colorful writing for the winds. The orchestra in The Creation is every bit as much a protagonist as the soloists and chorus. The work is part of the grand orchestral/choral tradition that is in the Festival’s DNA, as represented by such audience favorites such as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the Bach Passions, and Carmina Burana.
The Creation’s enduring place in the repertory is because of its appeal on so many levels: It is complex and intricate, yet highly accessible. It is spiritual, but profoundly human. It’s is Haydn’s great expression of gratitude to God, but also a lasting gift to humankind.
“I have lived with Haydn’s Creation all my life,” said Festival Artistic Director Paul Goodwin. “In performances as a boy chorister, as a solo oboist and as a conductor, reveling in its ever-changing colors and glorious architecture. This piece means a lot to me; I hope it will to you too!”
California State Monterey Bay University