Liszt’s oratorio Christus, in an Israeli premiere, conducted by Meir Minsky, was
a highlight of the Israel Festival’s classical music events.
It is a
monumental work. This is probably the reason it is performed only rarely, since
it requires a festival to make its presentation possible. It seems to be another
Liszt, different from the one we commonly encounter. Not the quasi- Hungarian
piano-fireworks virtuoso of his Hungarian Rhapsody-like pieces whom Heinrich
Heine labelled as a “gigantic dwarf,” but the more mature composer who had
become inclined toward solemnity, religiosity and spirituality.
work’s chief hero is the choir, although its orchestral parts seem to be longer.
These are reminiscent of Liszt’s earlier symphonic poems where he appears to be
saying more than he has actually got to say. Well-calculated cuts might render
the work more compact and digestible without causing any sense of
The choral parts, on the other hand, although shorter – or perhaps
because of that – are immensely impressive and gripping.
The work seems
also to gain force as it carries along, its latter parts sounding noticeably
more intense than the former ones. The women’s chorus Alleluia was breathtaking
in its delicate softness, the subsequent Alleluia sounded stunningly forceful,
and the Resurrexit exploded like an exuberant celebration of joy.
Transylvania Choir of Cluj Napoca’s performance was admirable in its forceful
expressiveness, subtle nuances and perfect cohesion.
The soloists –
soprano Talia Or, mezzosoprano Iris Vermillion, tenor George Oniani,
bass-baritone Roman Trekel – blended in harmoniously with each other.
orchestral part was performed by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
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