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SACD Review

Franz Liszt


Oratorio in 3 Acts

  • Franziska Hirzel
  • Birgit Remmert
  • Donald Kaasch
  • Ralf Lukas
Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno
Beethoven Orchestra Bonn/Roman Kofman
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG9371366-2 3 Hybrid Multichannel SACDs 172m DDD
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This brand new recording of Franz Liszt's massive oratorio, 'Christus' is doubly welcome as it is a new version for some years now and it enshrines some great singing and orchestral players all under the knowing guidance of Roman Kofman.

The oratorio is split into three distinct parts or acts lasting about an hour each with the first one designated as a Christmas Oratorio. The orchestra plays a hugely important part here with an extensive introduction lasting almost a quarter of an hour after the soloists and choir get a look in. I had been familiar with Erato's excellent recording under James Conlon but that is currently unavailable and dates back to 1982, almost a quarter of a century and I must say that I hugely enjoyed Kofman's brisk and unalloyed style.

In the second part described as 'Epiphany', we have some lovely interpretations, especially the magnificent 'Entry into Jerusalem' which is fairly apocalyptic in its intensity. What is most characteristic about this oratorio is the way it is built into huge blocks that are quite symphonic in their treatment. The third part is called 'Passion and Transfiguration' and almost resembles Mahler in its glorious intensity especially in the final 'Et Resurexit'

I already indicated the excellent qualities of the soloists especially Franziska Hirzel and Birgit Remmert who sing with that important ethereal intensity. Kofman conducts with the ideal tonic and lets the music move along quite magically. The SACD sound comes out trumps on my Sony SACD-11 player and I really have nothing but an unqualified recommendation for this beautiful set.

Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech