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Haydn’s Unlikely Creation

There have been so many excellent and exciting Bay Area concerts of late (the SF Symphony’s American Mavericks mini-festival, and a spectacular St. Matthew Passion from the American Bach Soloists come to mind as well as numerous touring groups), I would need a staff of twenty to sort through the listings. One particular concert, however, stood out from the rest.

On Monday, April 30th, the period instrument New Esterházy String Quartet will perform Haydn’s Creation at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, a joint usually dedicated to folk music. Information is available here.

Anton Wranitzky (1761-1820), a student of Haydn’s, arranged Haydn’s entire oratorio for viola quartet (string quartet with added viola). What he did with the vocal solos and choruses is only a matter of conjecture. Part of the impetus was undoubtably to popularize the piece at a time before recordings and when pianos were less common than fiddles. Classical music history is full of oddball arrangements (among my favorites is Beethoven’s own arrangement of his seventh symphony for brass band), but this is sure to be either magnificently enlightening or truly cringeworthy. I have no idea, but I highly encourage audiences to check it out.