The premiere of The Creation, conducted by Haydn before an invited audience at the Schwarzenberg Palace in Vienna on 30 April 1798, set off a chain of events such as the city had never experienced. The triumphant success of the premiere was followed by two more performances on 7 and 10 May. Almost a year later, on 19 March 1799, the first public performance of the work took place in the presence of the emperor at the Burgtheater. Haydn had playbills printed for the occasion on which he announced that none of the pieces would be repeated following applause, “otherwise the exact connection between the several parts, from whose uninterrupted sequence the effect of the whole is intended to spring, must necessarily be destroyed, and, moreover, the pleasure considerable lessened”. The impact was tremendous. The audience gave their full attention to the music and expressed its enthusiasm with thunderous applause only at the interval and at the end of the concert. Following publication of the score, the work spread like wildfire throughout Europe and was performed in Budapest, Prague, London, Oxford, Salzburg, Paris, Amsterdam, St Petersburg and Moscow. In November 1801, the Journal des Luxus und der Moden stated: “Never has a musical artwork caused such a sensation or found such a wide audience as Haydn’s Creation”.
To open the new season, Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker now perform this epic work, which takes chaos as its starting point, represented “by the ordinary, methodical, conventional resources of Art” (Carl Friedrich Zelter). The creation of the world follows in a series of picturesque descriptions of nature, including the famous sunrise in the accompanied recitative “In splendour bright”, in which within ten bars, a single note swells to a radiant D major chord of the full orchestra – a grandiose effect that has lost none of its impact.
The excellent Rundfunkchor Berlin will also doubtlessly present itself “in splendour bright” as well as the trio of soloists: The tenor role is sung by Mark Padmore, who also makes his debut as artist in residence for the 2017/18 season this evening, and who is known for his virtuoso vocal line and perfect diction. He is joined by Elsa Dreisig, a member of the ensemble of the Berlin Staatsoper as of this season, plus the baritone Florian Boesch. This first concert of the season begins with a symphonic “appetiser” by the Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas, as part of the orchestra’s series of commissioned works of no more than six minutes duration.