Notes and Editorial Reviews
Beethoven’s oddball oratorio receives another fine modern recording.
Christ on the Mount of Olives attracts a fairly steady trickle of recordings, most recently on Harmonia Mundi with Berlin forces under Kent Nagano. The most striking elements there were the soloists, with Plácido Domingo in commanding form as Christus and Luba Orgonasova in no less heroic voice as the Seraph; Andreas Schmidt was a forceful Peter.
On the new record Maria Venuti is a little shrill and though she manages the coloratura well enough, there is less sense of the unearthly spirit which this should express, bringing consolation to Jesus in his agony in the Garden. Michel Brodard sings Peter levelly and with a good deal of
sensitivity, though there is something lacking of the character’s rough, warm impetuosity as Beethoven catches it. Domingo, of course, represents a considerable challenge in the part, even though his voice is not at its most lustrous. Keith Lewis portrays a Christ more forlorn in his loneliness as the disciples fail to watch with him, responding sensitively to Huber’s far-from-distinguished text and phrasing the music with great understanding.
If it is a less majestic interpretation, it is a very sympathetic one. Lewis is also much helped by Helmuth Rilling, who draws an excellent performance from his Stuttgart forces. The players respond warmly to his lead, and he even manages to rescue the soldiers from their opéra comique associations...There is much to admire in what Lewis and the supportive Rilling bring to the work.
-- John Warrack, Gramophone [2/2005]
Works on This Recording
Christus am Ölberge, Op. 85 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Michel Brodard (Bass),
Maria Venuti (Soprano),
Keith Lewis (Tenor)
Stuttgart Bach Collegium
Written: 1803-1804; Vienna, Austria
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