The Creation is tricky. I can imagine some people walked out of the performance last Friday thinking Haydn wasn’t up to it. It felt domestic, rather than cosmological. As an 18th century oratorio, it was neither a transcendental drama (Bach) nor a rousing big noise (Handel). And yet the beginning, The Representation of Chaos, is intensely serious—Beethoven without the posturing. And the barely-audible entrance of the chorus is a theatrical stroke out of Verdi. The whole piece is dramatic: “Let there be light” is a fortissimo blast. The fishes appeared with meandering melodic lines. The elephants appeared with a trombone fart. And so on. The soloists were celebratory, not introspective. It’s humane joy.
The only problem last Friday was Alberto Arvelo’s video accompaniment. Yet another video light show. It’s just insulting that LA Phil continues pushing them on us. If anybody really wants to look at Googled images of fish crawl over the interior of Disney Hall instead of listening to Haydn, the Phil should be working to educate them. And if you have to do a video (though I can't imagine why) this is Hollywood, for crying out loud: there are several generations of video artists, not to mention the folks in the entertainment industry who know how to do these things. Enough!