Haydn's oratorio Die Schöpfung ("The Creation") recounts Genesis via Milton's Paradise Lost, translated into German and reworked into the finished libretto by the Baron van Swieten. It is an intensely felt masterpiece, Haydn later saying, "I was never so pious as during the time when I was working on The Creation: I fell to my knees daily and asked God to give me the strength for a favorable completion of the work." The music alternates thrilling choral writing with moving solo parts, and bass Rene Pape and soprano Edith Mathis are especially fine. Peter Schreier conducts the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Festival Choir Lucerne in this 1992 performance originally shot for video in an unnamed but beautiful and ornate baroque location. The notes record that at the public premiere in Vienna in 1799, a small book containing van Swieten's libretto was given to each member of the audience "so that ever'body unnerstands what the music wanted t'say." It is ironic that this release contains neither the libretto nor subtitles. This is a musical drama, and the text is vitally important for more than superficial appreciation, such that those unfamiliar with the work may find greater reward in John Eliot Gardiner's 1997 CD version.
The DVD contains a clean, sharp 4:3 ratio transfer from the original video program with minimal evidence of grain. The sound is stereo PCM and generally good, though in some of the more full-blooded passages the recording of the choir is a little constricted and even harsh. There are no extra features of any kind, though being Region 0 the disc will play in any DVD machine. --Gary S. Dalkin, Amazon.co.uk
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