- Die Schöpfung (The Creation), oratorio, H. 21/2
Edward Higginbottom's recording of Franz Joseph Haydn's "The Creation" is sung in English, and the vocal parts he used were based on mid-19th century editions that reflected the practices of their time. Peculiarly, the instrumental parts are German and roughly of the same vintage, so Higginbottom's version is a bit of a hybrid, from a scholarly perspective, and early music purists will note that the performance doesn't sound much like authentic period practice; except for the use of a small orchestra and the continuo in the recitatives, this seems to be rather mainstream reading in instrumentation and style. Indeed, in Haydn's time, there was considerable variance in the size of forces and use of German or English texts. Notwithstanding that, this is a buoyant rendition that preserves the Classical spirit, and the liveliness of the singing and playing more than compensate for any presumed unfaithfulness to late 18th century sound. The performances by soprano Mhairi Lawson as the angel Gabriel, tenor Rufus Müller as Uriel, and bass David Stout as Raphael, are smooth and pleasant, and their singing is not excessively dramatic but appropriate for the expositional nature of oratorio. The Choir of New College Oxford is full and robust, impressively so for an ensemble of boys and men, and the accompaniment of the Oxford Philomusica is clean and balanced, so the music is given its due. The reproduction is clear and focused, but a boost in volume may be needed because of the wide dynamic range of the recording.