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Liszt: Christus - Kofman

Liszt: Christus - Kofman

MDG Gold  937 1366-6 (3 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Vocal


Liszt: Christus (oratorio)

Franziska Hirzel
Birgit Remmert
Donald Kaasch
Ralf Lukas
Czech Philharmonic Choir
Beethoven Orchester Bonn
Roman Kofman (conductor)

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Comment by Luketsu - June 23, 2016 (1 of 2)

INTRODUCTION
"Liszt's monumental "Christus Oratorio" is comparable to "Ben-Hur" or "Quo Vadis". It takes about three hours and includes an enormous spectacle. It is not a surprise that SACD may be the only acceptable format.
My first introduction to this work was Helmut Rilling's grandiose recording on Hännsler. It was a regular CD. I was very pleased to the results and for a long time the album was my personal first choice. But my current favorite is another album.
About thirty years ago Antal Dorati recorded the work for Hungaroton with the Hungarian State Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio and Television Chorus. Before listening I was quite sceptical. But my opinions changed even at the beginning of the first movement. Dorati found perfectly the spiritual atmosphere. Everything was peaceful and beautiful. But it was a disappointment that the album was just 2-channel CD.
I was quite excited when I noticed this SACD at the first time. Surround sound with 2+2+2 recording. Well, the overall impression was not very staggering. Pallid performance with distant sound.

PERFORMANCE
It seemed that Kofman did not understand the melodic richness of the oratorio. He underlined the wrong transitions and emphasized meaningless phrases. I must admit that the mystical opening was auspicious. But after this the general expression of the performance came clear. Those expressions were smooth articulation, bored singing and dragging tempi. Dorati was more wiser with his peaceful tempo choices.

RECORDING
The opening movement was so quiet that I had to turn the volume much louder than normally. The climaxes were still quiet although I did so. Treble buzzed to the ears and the bass was too weak. The rear speakers were barely audible as well as the centre speaker. In my view this SACD should be understood as 2-channel stereo with additional low frequency channel (subwoofer). The 2.1 configuration, therefore.

Sadly, not recommended at all.

Performance: ***
Recording: ** (Multichannel)

Comment by Luketsu - October 7, 2017 (2 of 2)

Recently I have listened to Helmut Rilling's magnificent recording on Hännsler Classics. The recording has a wide dynamic range but alas the release was a standard RBCD only. It was recorded in February 1997 and could be one of the earliest multichannel recordings as some labels (e.g. Universal) decided to utilize the possibilities of surround sound before SACD was introduced in September 1999. One can only hope Hännsler will re-release the recording on Super Audio CD with DSD remastering. It is regrettable to say there is no recommendable SACD album of this mighty cinematic work.

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2+2+2 Recording