February brings us the nastiest weather of the year. On the other hand, it also brings us Valentine’s Day, and an opportunity to reflect on the wonder and joy of human love, which – as Genesis tells us – was created at the dawn of the world:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them.
And God blessed them. (Genesis 1:27-28 RSV)
In this magnificent duet from Haydn’s Creation, Adam and Eve express their delight in each other and enumerate the splendors of the newly created world around them.
Reflecting on his work in composing The Creation, Haydn once wrote, “Often, when I was struggling with all kinds of obstacles … a secret voice whispered to me: ‘There are so few happy and contented people in this world; sorrow and grief follow them everywhere; perhaps your labor will become a source from which the careworn will for a while derive peace and refreshment.’” Those of us feeling exhausted by the prospect of more snow should draw refreshment from this joyful ode to love and life.
The libretto of The Creation is the work of a number of poets, and includes sections based on Genesis, Psalms, and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Originally written in English, Haydn worked from a German translation when composing, and it is most often (as here) sung in that language.
This recording – the Freiburger Barockorchester conducted by René Jacobs, with Julia Kleiter and Johannes Weisser as Adam and Eve – was released by Harmonia Mundi in March 2014.
Holde Gattin! Dir zur Seite
fliessen sanft die Stunden hin.
Jeder Augenblick ist Wonne,
keine Sorge trübet sie.
Teurer Gatte! Dir zur Seite
schwimmt in Freuden mir das Herz.
Dir gewidmet ist mein Leben;
deine Liebe sei mein Lohn.
Der tauende Morgen,
o wie ermuntert er!
Die Kühle des Abends,
o wie erquicket sie!
Wie labend ist
der runden Früchte Saft!
Wie reizend ist
der Blumen süsser Duft!
Doch ohne dich, was wäre mir
der Früchte Saft,
der Blumen Duft!
Mit dir erhöht sich jede Freude,
mit dir geniess ich doppelt sie,
mit dir ist Seligkeit das Leben,
dir sei es ganz geweiht.
Graceful consort! At thy side
softly fly the golden hours.
Ev’ry moment brings new rapture,
ev’ry care is put to rest.
Spouse adored! At thy side
purest joys o’erflow the heart.
Life and all I am is thine;
my reward thy love shall be.
The dew dropping morn,
O how she quickens all!
The coolness of ev’n,
O how she all restores!
How grateful is
of fruit the savour sweet!
How pleasing is
of fragrant bloom the smell!
But without thee, what is to me
the morning dew,
the breath of ev’n,
the sav’ry fruit,
the fragrant bloom?
With thee, with thee is ev’ry joy enhanced,
with thee delight is ever new;
with thee is life incessant bliss;
thine it whole shall be.