London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Sir Simon Rattle – Beethoven Christ on the Mount of Olives (Christus Am Ölberge) (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 45:14 minutes | 802 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © LSO Live
Composed in 1803, while Beethoven was also writing the “Eroica” Symphony, Christ on the Mount of Olives (Christus am Ölberge) is the composer’s only oratorio, and combines the emotive force of his later Missa Solemnis with the theater of a Bach Passion. With orchestra, chorus and soloists, it tells the story of Jesus’ prayer and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and also reflects the emotional pressure Beethoven was under at the time. This recording by Sir Simon Rattle, with acclaimed singers Elsa Dreisig, Pavol Breslik and David Soar, was made during the London Symphony Orchestra’s celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary.
Few recordings exist of Beethoven’s unique oratorio which drew influence from Händel’s work Haydn’s The Creation and the Seasons. A revelation came in 1966 Philadelphia when Eugene Ormandy made a beautiful recording of the oratorio. Ormandy’s lead was then followed by several more recordings. But, the composition remains a rarity within repertoires, even the monumental Beethoven edition published by Deutsche Grammophone for the 200th anniversary of the composers birth omitted this deserving oratorio.
Christ on the Mount of Olives’ writing and theatricality varies in an experimental fashion that would give birth to Leonore the following year and then Fidelio ten years later. Beethoven seems to oscillate between several genres with a writing style that mixes academia, operatic vocal virtuosity and innovation (stemming from his own language). The bad reception of his 1803 work seems to shadow this oratorio like a malediction.
This new recording by Sir Simon Rattle, captured during a concert performed at the Barbican Centre in London in February 2020, turns a salutary spotlight onto an all too often neglected work. Elsa Dreisig plays the seraph with great virtuosity and Pavol Breslik as a determined Christ.
It was the first time that a composer had had Christ sang by a tenor and not by a bass singer, as was tradition. David Soar accurately plays the role of Peter, who is somewhat treated as secondary on the score. The choirs are omnipresent in their representation of the crowds (the “turba”) and their cries and murmurs. The one hundred and twenty-five singers in the London Symphony Choir are the true heroes of this vigorous interpretation which is brought to life with energy and dramatism by a particularly inspired and elated Sir Simon. © François Hudry/Qobuz
Details of original recording : Recorded live on 19 January & 13 February 2020 at the Barbican, London (England)
01. Sir Simon Rattle – Part I – No. 1a. Introduzione. Grave – Adagio
02. Pavol Breslik – Part I – No. 1b. Recitativo. “Jehova, du mein Vater !”
03. Pavol Breslik – Part I – No. 1c. Aria. “Meine Seele ist erschüttert”
04. Elsa Dreisig – Part I – No. 2a. Recitativo. “Erzittre, Erde !”
05. Elsa Dreisig – Part I – No. 2b. Aria. “Preist des Erlösers Güte”
06. Elsa Dreisig – Part I – No. 2c. Chor der Engel. “O Heil euch ihr Erlösten”
07. Elsa Dreisig – Part I – No. 3a. Recitativo. “Verkündet, Seraph, mir dein Mund”
08. Elsa Dreisig – Part I – No. 3b. Duetto. “So ruhe dann mit ganzer Schwere”
09. Pavol Breslik – Part II – No. 4a. Recitativo. “Willkommen, Tod !”
10. Sir Simon Rattle – Part II – No. 4b. Chor der Krieger. “Wir haben ihn gesehen”
11. Pavol Breslik – Part II – No. 5a. Recitativo. “Die mich zu fangen ausgezogen sind”
12. Sir Simon Rattle – Part II – No. 5b. Chor der Krieger, Chor der Jünger. “Hier ist er, der Verbannte”
13. David Soar – Part II – No. 6a. Recitativo. “Nicht ungestraft soll der Verwegnen Schar”
14. David Soar – No. 6b. Terzetto. “In meinen Adern wühlen unbändig Zorn und Wut”
15. Pavol Breslik – No. 6c. Chor der Krieger, Chor der Jünger. “Auf, auf ! Ergreifet den Verräter”
16. Sir Simon Rattle – No. 6d. Chor der Engel. “Welten singen Lob und Ehre”
17. Sir Simon Rattle – No. 6e. Chor der Engel. “Preiset ihn, ihr Engelschöre”