HAYDN Die Jahreszeiten, Die Schopfung. Helen Donath, Adalbert Kraus, Kurt Widmer, Suddeutsches Madrigalchor, Orchester der Ludwigsburger Festspiele / Wolfgang Gonnenwein. Brilliant Classics 4cds

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Haydn Die Jahreszeiten Die Schopfung Wolfgang Gonnenwein Brilliant Classics 4Cds

JOSEPH HAYDN

Die Jahreszeiten / Die Schöpfung

Helen Donath, Adalbert Kraus, Kurt Widmer Süddeutsches Madrigalchor, Orchester der Ludwigsburger Festspiele, Wolfgang Gönnenwein

Joseph Haydn was not only a prolific orchestral and chamber music writer, but also a fine vocal composer who produced many songs during his extensive career. This 4CD compilation is dedicated to his two powerful choral works, or oratorios – joyous evocations of the world, which stand among the German’s final masterpieces. The four-disc set begins with The Creation, a work inspired by the gargantuan performances of Messiah and Israel in Egypt that Haydn attended at the 1791 Handel Festival.

Drawing on the Book of Genesis, Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Book of Psalms, the oratorio paints a vivid picture of a benevolent, rationally ordered universe and features some of the 18th century’s most harmonically audacious music in the ‘Representation of Chaos’. It was a hugely popular work in its day and contains many a thrilling moment – something that can also be said of The Seasons. Written in response to the phenomenal success of the former composition, this oratorio embraces an even wider range of images – from storm to stag hunt, wine harvest to songs of Praise to the Almighty.

It features a diverse array of styles, such as Viennese Singspiel, and similarly makes use of sophisticated orchestral and harmonic language. Bursting with vitality and inventive richness, The Creation and The Seasons are hugely optimistic works written by a man who was at the height of his compositional career. Here they are given assured performances by the Süddeutsches Madrigalchor and Orchester der Ludwigsburger Festspiele, one of Europe’s leading ensembles for 18th-century music.

A well tested, artistically and commercially successful coupling of the two great oratorios of Haydn: Die Schöpfung and Die Jahreszeiten.

Both works are vintage Haydn: under the genial, warmly beaming face dwell dramatic powers, emotional storms and shattering earthquakes.

Both works enjoy immense popularity, not in the least with the many (amateur) choral societies, where a performance of either of these works is the annual highlight. Excellent performances in the firmly rooted German tradition, with soloists the incomparable Helen Donath, Kurt Widmer and Adalbert Kraus.

Brilliant Classics 4cds 94384

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