Ágnes Kovács – soprano
When the elderly Joseph Haydn left Eszterháza in 1790 and soon set out on his first, years-long journey to England, he most probably had no idea that he would create something novel and important in a genre he hadn’t had much to do with previously: the oratorio. His stay in London, the cult of Handel’s oratorios and the connections and experiences gained there gave him enough inspiration to write the oratorio version of the instrumental The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross, The Creation and The Seasons, which started a new era in the European history of oratorios. Although even composers called Haydn "Papa" in his old age, The Creation turned him into a true star. The first performances in Vienna were so much on demand that the windows had to be open due to the overcrowded concert halls, so even the masses in the street had the chance to listen to them. When Napoleon's army seized Vienna, a French soldier went to see Haydn and asked the master to listen to him sing an aria from The Creation. A few years after the first performance, the composition had its premiere in Buda. The title of the work was first translated as "Alkotás" (a synonym for "creation" in Hungarian), which inspired the erection of the Alkotás House depicting Creation. Although the house has been pulled down, Alkotás Street (where it once stood), named after it proclaims the ingenuity of Haydn's "creation" to this day.
THE MUSICAL MATERIAL OF THE CREATION IS MORE THAN INGENIOUS; IT IS PERFECT.
On 6 April 2023, one of the greatest compositions of music history will delight the audience of the Kodály Centre in Pécs: Joseph Haydn’s oratorio, The Creation, conducted by András Vass.
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the vocal-symphonic concerts of the Pannon Philharmonic, which is inseparable from the foundation of the Pannon Philharmonic Festival Choir aiming to sing the Baroque and Classical repertoire with great authenticity. László Dobos and me jointly act as the choir's artistic directors. In the past few years, we have presented at a high level a number of works by Bach, Purcell, Händel, Telemann, Mozart and Haydn to the Pécs-based audience. The Creation is a very popular and beloved oratorio. In other words, a hit. Haydn’s music wonderfully combines the authenticity I’ve just referred to with Haydn’s typical effects and surprises. It is important to remark, however, that in a composition as commonly played as this, it is especially challenging to convey relevant and topical messages beyond retaining its authenticity, moreover, in a way that it gets not only to the audience’s ears but also their hearts. Haydn was one of the greatest masters, not only in terms of his symphonies but also thanks to his vocal-symphonic masterpieces. The musical material of The Creation is not only ingenious; it is perfect. We must approach it with authenticity and play it hands-on. I believe this is the key to success, and we’ll strive to achieve it.