Haydn: The Creation - Weil
Ars Produktion ARS 38 082 (2 discs)
Classical - Vocal
Haydn: The Creation
Bruno Weil (conductor)
Review by Adrian Quanjer - October 27, 2016
Now that we are approaching the end of year festive season, which for many is closely associated with religious thoughts, it would seem befitting to have a closer look at one of Haydn’s masterpieces ‘The Creation’. This recording dates from 2012 and was made during a concert in the ‘Alfred Krupp’ Hall in Essen, Germany, a year after Haydn’s ‘The Seasons’ with the same forces at the same location and reviewed with much acclaim by John Miller. Of the 5 recordings in the hi-res catalogue this is the only one that hasn’t had a review so far, which I think is a pity, because it is in my opinion one of the better performances.
Two of the three soloists, Jan Kobow and Hanno Müller-Brachmann, have also been contracted for the equally H.I.P. 2006 Naxos recording Haydn: The Creation - Spering, which got a rave review from John Broggio. It’s still available, but at a price. This ARS recording seems to be an excellent replacement, the more so because the recording is in DSD Multi-channel Hi-Resolution. And there are some other advantages, too. Like giving the full text, though in German only, and with part one on disk one and part 2&3 on disk two. So no change necessary in the middle of part two, as with Naxos.
With Bruno Weil at the helm of ‘his’ Capella Coloniensis and the support of the Boys’ Choir from Tölz in Bavaria (Tölzer Knabenchor), one can safely say that we have here all the ingredients for a successful registration of one of Haydn’s Major Choral ‘creations’.
This being a one off live recording one gets what it was: lively, spontaneous, but with the odd minor slip, which, in fact, makes it all the more a real concert experience.
Given the same two male soloists it only seems logical that I’ve compared Bruno Weil’s version with that of Andreas Spering. In terms of singing I could not detect much difference between now and then as far as Kobov and Müller-Brackmann are concerned. I find them most convincing in the role of Archangel Raphael (Kobov) and the angel of the Divine Presence, Uriel (Müller-Brackmann). In the female department I have a preference for Sibylla Rubens over Sunhae Im. Both have a beautiful voice, but Im’s is for me a shade too timid. The boys choir, too, is to be preferred, as it sings with so much more sparkle as adults seem to be able to produce.
Bruno Weil has an orchestra of 49 musicians at his disposal. All with period instruments or copies thereof. Spering's band is much smaller (39); the difference is in the strings, as the other instruments are prescribed in the score. Another difference is a forte piano (Spering) versus a cembalo (Weil). Does that make the Capella Coloniensis sound bigger? No. All a matter of recording technique, I suppose. Spering sounds warmer at the bottom end, but less defined in the orchestral tuttis. Weil is recorded with a higher resolution and the base line is less present, but that said it is at the same time more realistic, especially to ears familiar with real sound in a concert hall.
And what about the rendition? Bruno Weil is on the whole less theatrical than Spering, but more precise in the execution. He directs, of course, an orchestra with which he has already made a number of award winning recordings (Haydn symphonies, for ARS-Produktion as well); an orchestra claiming to be the oldest in the period class. Spering’s orchestra, founded in 1992 for the so called Brühler Schlosskonzerte (Brühl is a provincial town near Köln/Cologne, Germany), is an ad-hoc amalgamation of players from other orchestras. True, all first rate like … indeed, Capella Coloniensis and Concerto Köln. Timings are roughly similar.
There is no point going into detail as the ARS production is accompanied by extensive notes.
The recording engineers have been able to weed out practically all occasional noises from the Hall and Manfred Schumacher has put everything in excellent multi-channel perspective.
To sum it up: This ‘Creation’ is at least as good as any of the others, but taking into account all positive elements, I’m glad I have it.
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