After the high of singing Messiah with a massed choir in the Sydney Town Hall on 13 November, the Choir will be returning to its usual performance space, the Great Hall of the University of Sydney, to perform The Creation (Die Schöpfung) of Joseph Haydn, on Sunday, 4 December at 5.00 pm. A fine trio of soloists will sing: Penelope Mills (soprano), Andrew Goodwin (tenor) and Adrian Tamburini (bass).
After Messiah, Haydn’s great work may well be the most popular oratorio in the repertoire. There are strong connections between the two works. Haydn’s interest in oratorio was kindled by his attendance at a Handel Festival in London in 1791, which included performances of Messiah with enormous forces. While in England, he was given a text based on Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost, which he took back to Vienna with him and gave to the music-loving Habsburg court official, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, to translate. Van Swieten translated the text into German and translated his own translation back into English (the original English text having disappeared). So Haydn’s work was published simultaneously in German and English.
The Creation is marked by a wonderful combination of the sublime and the human. For example, the spectacular effect Haydn achieves on the words, “Let there be Light!”, exceeds in grandeur anything in Handel. At the other extreme, Haydn’s depiction of the relationship of Adam and Eve is warm and charming. Overall, the work is an outstanding product of the Age of Enlightenment. It promises to bring the Choir’s year of concert-giving to an uplifting close