The Creation is Haydn’s masterpiece, based on a lifetime of experience and reflecting the happy confidence of the eighteenth century. Although there are moments that presage the nineteenth century, it has none of the agonising of the Romantic period. Three years from the end of the eighteenth century it is a summation and celebration of that century’s ideals by one of its greatest figures. The story is unfolded by three soloists, whose names, taken from Milton, were supplied by the Baron Van Swieten: Gabriel (soprano), Uriel (tenor) and Raphael (bass).
Haydn’s Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo is a short mass in the Viennese tradition, although it is thought that it was composed for the Convent Chapel of the Eisenstadt Chapter of the Brothers of Mercy (Barmherzige Brüder), with which order Haydn had long been on friendly terms (the Viennese Chapter had given the first Vienna performance of his Stabat Mater in 1767). St. John of God is the patron saint of this order, to whom the Mass is dedicated; the Order’s hospital at Eisenstadt, and the tiny Chapel in which this Mass was first performed, still exist and are in regular use.
These recordings by Karl Münchinger were the only two of Haydn’s sacred works recorded with the Wiener Philharmoniker and received wide critical acclaim on their first release and have long been out of circulation in their CD transfers on Decca’s ‘Ovation’ series.
Die Schöpfung (The Creation)
Elly Ameling, soprano (Gabriel)
Werner Krenn, tenor (Uriel)
Tom Krause, bass (Raphael)
Erna Spoorenberg, soprano (Eva)
Robin Fairhurst, bass (Adam)
Chorus Master: Wilhelm Pitz
Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo
(Little Organ Mass)
Elly Ameling, soprano
Peter Planyavsky, organ
Norbert Balatsch, chorus master
Recording Producers: Ray Minshull, Christopher Raeburn (Die Schöpfung); James Mallinson (Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo)
Balance Engineers: James Lock, James Brown (Die Schöpfung); Colin Moorfoot, Philip Wade (Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo)
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, May-June 1967 (Die Schöpfung), December 1974 (Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo)
‘A splendid recording. Chorus and orchestra both sound large, which is what Haydn wanted, and both are in superb form, while the soloists are as good as in any other version and better than most. … The playing of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is superlative. This music is in their blood and no praise can be too high for the glorious playing they give us all through … Tom Krause has never done anything so good as this … Werner Krenn is a most sensitive and poetic Uriel. He has a voice of beautiful lyrical quality, and phrases most musically. … Fresh and youthful also is Elly Ameling’s beautifully sung Gabriel. … The Vienna State Opera Chorus sing superbly and with admirable enunciation of the words, and the balance of parts is excellent. They are obviously as much in love with their task as the rest. The highest praise must go to Münchinger for his inspired direction of the score. “Achieved”, indeed, “is the glorious work” as never before on disc.’ (The Creation) Gramophone
‘The short Haydn Mass (less than a side) is a beauty; deeply felt and wonderfully expressed’ (Little Organ Mass) Gramophone