Joseph Haydn’s The Creation
Indianapolis Arts Chorale
Conducted by Chris Ludwa
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
Sunday, April 22
Dedicating ourselves “to create the kind of world we want to live in, every day, for as long as it takes” was Chris Ludwa’s heartfelt preface to a richly nuanced performance of Haydn’s 18th century oratorio, The Creation.
The text, here sung in a lyrically lovely Spanish translation by Melissa Garr and Ludwa, originally was rendered in German by Liddell as a combination of the texts of Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Haydn approached the writing of the music for orchestra, chorus, narrator and soloists when he was 60 as an act of piety. The beloved musicologist Milton Cross described The Creation as having “great strength and many weaknesses, of sublimity and of naiveté, of true inspiration and stilted formality.” Oddly, the artfully articulated piano accompaniment by David Duncan underplays some of the orchestral excesses of what Cross describes as naïve representation of the elements of thunder, lightning, rainfall, etc. What lingers even a day after the concert is the remarkable atmospheric tone painting showing chaos resolving into order, daily wonderments following upon each other in joyful anticipation of what possibly could top that day’s events, and in the end, the tender love song between Adam and Eve, as much in love with the world as with each other, as equally dedicated to piety as to adventure as they wander about and admire the world into which they have come.
Yet, there is that strain of complaint from Milton that creeps into the mix — from somewhere emerges the two-legged’s wail — “Where is my bread?” — reminding us that following The Fall humankind alone from all the other creatures comes unequipped to forage for its own food and needs to be taught. Thus we learn that creation is a compact of working together to complete that which the Creator began. The challenge is the true story.
Soprano Sara Flores, tenor Marcos Aguiar and baritone Jose Rubio were nicely balanced as soloists. Dr. Juan Cadenas narrated with authority. Visual artists Giselle Trujillo and Rebeca Hrlic created a painting during the performance. The setting was both acoustically and emotionally perfect.