|Sunday November 27th, 2022 at 7:00 pm
|Royal Northern College of Music, 124 Oxford Road, Manchester. M13 9RD
|The Creation – Haydn
|In the first two parts the six days of creation are announced .The work starts appropriately enough, were Haydn to have known it, with a ‘big bang’ on the timpani. In this introductory “Representation of Chaos”, shifting harmonies portray the formlessness that marked the beginning of the universe. It is followed by the famous depiction of the creation of light: ‘Let there be light: and there was light’.
The succeeding days of creation are then introduced by the archangels: Raphael (bass), Uriel (tenor), and Gabriel (soprano). On Day Two, illustration of the ‘outrageous storms’ and ‘awful rolls of thunder’ would have been standard fare for a composer of Haydn’s quality, but listen to the delicate string tracery describing the falling rain, and the hushed treatment of ‘the light and flaky snow’.
‘The foaming billows’ of the seas appear on Day Three along with the rivers, which poetically meander ‘in serpent error’. Later that day, Gabriel’s delightful aria, ‘with verdure clad’, contains music beguiling enough to distract us from the bizarre ‘here vent their fumes the fragrant herbs’. The day ends with a glorious choral fugue on the words: ‘For he the heavens and earth has clothed in stately dress’.
On Day Four, we encounter a magical description of the sunrise, but the subtle treatment of moonlight spreading over the night sky which follows it is even more enchanting. The chorus, ‘The heavens are telling’, provides a splendidly uplifting end to Part One.
An eagle, a lark, and cooing doves are introduced on the fifth day, while the nightingale has its own lovely flute solo. There are whales, ‘finny tribes’ multiplying in the waters, and an ‘immense leviathan sports on the foaming wave’. Finally the soloists and chorus declare the greatness of the Lord.
The sixth day regales us with the ‘cheerful’ roaring of the lion, a ‘flexible’ tiger, a nimble stag, and a neighing, sprightly steed, while ‘in long dimensions creeps with sinuous trace the worm’. We are then introduced to Man, ‘the lord and king of nature all’, and his partner, ‘a woman, fair and graceful spouse’ (whose submissive role could, in contemporary terms, be considered demeaning). Thus and therefore, ‘achievèd is the glorious work’.
Part Three (not included in this performance) is devoted to the story of Adam and Eve.
|5th Symphony – Dvorak
The fifth symphony late symphonies (such as No. 9 From the New World). Composed in only five and a half weeks, it reflects Dvořák’s new-found optimism following his recent receipt from the Austrian government of an annual stipend. Dvořák gave the fifth symphony the opus number 24 on the manuscript, but in 1888, after Dvořák’s rise to international fame, Simrock eventually published it as opus 76, to boost sales by passing it off as a more mature work. (Dvořák played similar games by giving works lower opus numbers to avoid contractual obligations to sell them through Simrock!) Confusingly, the fifth symphony was also known as the third (based on order of publication) prior to adoption of standardised numbering in the 1950’s.
The pastoral first movement is introduced by the clarinets, used prominently throughout the symphony. A taste of Dvořák’s growing interest in folk tunes comes with a Bohemian dance, the furiant. The slow movement is a lyrical intermezzo, its tranquil mood set by cellos and violins, before the flute and bassoon brighten the atmosphere. Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony is recalled with occasional bird calls from the flute and clarinet., and the pastoral mood continues into the slow introduction to the third movement, which proceeds without a break. This lively scherzo is a feast of varied orchestral colour, with its extended middle trio section rich in melodies. The energetic and stormy finale’s brooding opening soon gives way to a bold brass statement of the main theme. Pastoral interludes alternate with fiery outbursts, before a hint of the symphony’s opening three-note theme brings the work to a satisfying conclusion.
|Click here to view the concert programme which contains lots of information about the choir, the composer, the work and the soloists.
|Thomas D Hopkinson
|Manchester Beethoven Orchestra
Conductor for Haydn’s Creation
|Nigel P Wilkinson
Conductor for Dvorak’s 5th Symphony
Tickets: adults £15, students £10 available from:
– Our ticket secretary on 0161 797 3583