Haydn’s "The Creation" was a massive hit as soon as it was written, in 1798. Letters from the time show that tickets were hard to come by -- people were wheeling and dealing, trying to get them. Audiences would emerge from performances in tears, overwhelmed by what they had heard, unable to speak.
More than 200 years later, we can see what moved these people. Haydn had taken on a supernatural subject -- the Book of Genesis -- that many composers would have seen as impossible. He reaches toward the future, toward Beethoven and on to the tone colorings of Richard Wagner, as he depicts the creation of light, the blazing of the sun, the rising of the moon. The great choruses are pure majesty. The music also reflects Haydn’s earthy humor -- when God creates the animals, you can hear the honking of the steers.
Marvel at "The Creation" this weekend when the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus joins the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, all led by Israeli conductor Yoav Talmi, for a full-scale performance of the masterpiece at Kleinhans Music Hall. Performances are at 8 p.m. today (March 31) and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (April 1). Admission is $25-$72. For info, call 885-5000.
-- Mary Kunz Goldman