Review: Haydn’s Creation, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

Saturday, August 22 2015
Avery Fisher Hall, New York, NY

Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
Louis Langrée, conductor
Concert Chorale of New York
James Bagwell, director

Sarah Tynan, soprano
Thomas Cooley, tenor
John Relyea, bass

Hadyn, The Creation (1798)

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Mostly Mozart has become more like Hardly Mozart, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  After a busy summer during which I attended only one of numerous worthy concerts in the NYC area, I peeled myself off the couch to catch the final night of this lauded festival.

To be honest, I rarely ever listen to Haydn, or to oratorios, or to anything drawn from the English literary tradition, and I certainly have never heard of even excerpts of The Creation.  They say that music is never pleasurable the first time, which basically summarized my evening.  The three soloists, the chorus, and the orchestra all performed splendidly.  After a year of suffering through the brass section of the New York Philharmonic, I was especially surprised by how good the acoustics of Avery Fisher Hall can be.  The score contained long solo phrases for the cello that alone makes Haydn, in my opinion, the greatest Classical era composer for the cello (in an orchestral context, anyway), and flute had some wonderful motifs as well.  Overall, however, I can’t say that I was captivated by the otherwise jubilant piece, though neither the performers nor the composer could be blamed.  The performance elicited the most enthusiastic standing ovation I’ve ever seen in the building, and the conductor made a point to applaud the score–like, literally, he clapped the score.

An amusing/educational side note: like I said, I knew next to nothing about this piece, and upon realizing that the chorus was singing in English, I did a double take to make sure the composer wasn’t actually Handel.  This turned out to be more than a coincidence: according to the program notes, not only was Haydn inspired by Handel, the original libretto was indeed in English and possibly intended for Handel himself.

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