Although the Christus oratorio is Liszt’s greatest work and enormous in its significance, its massive scope, the scale of the forces it requires and the remarkable efforts needed to perform it all conspire to ensure that it is heard only rarely. Now is the occasion: the audience will get to enjoy this extraordinary work, performed by the Hungarian National Choir and the Szent István Philharmonic, together with some outstanding Hungarian soloists and all under the baton of choirmaster Csaba Somos – 150 years after the November 1873 Hungarian premiere that took place at the exact same venue, the Vigadó Concert Hall.
Liszt began work on this grand oratorio in 1855, but did not complete his magnum opus until 1867. Of the works in the music literature that deal with the life of Christ, one major type deals with the theme of his birth, and the other with his death on the cross. The first group is comprised of such works as the Christmas oratorios by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Heinrich Schütz, Bach and Saint-Saëns, while the second includes the Passions of Bach, Handel, Telemann, Krzysztof Penderecki, Arvo Pärt and Péter Zombola. What makes Liszt’s Christus oratorio unusual is the way that it draws its theme from the Saviour’s entire life, including both his birth and death as a single unity. In this regard, it is Handel’s Messiah that can be regarded as its closest predecessor. The oratorio consists of three parts: Christmas Oratorio, After Epiphany and Passion and Resurrection. The vocal soloists taking the stage on this occasion – Zita Váradi, Ágnes Szalai, Atala Schöck, Dániel Pataky, János Fátrai and Krisztián Cser – are all singers who are as sensitive to Liszt’s mature style as they are to the spirituality of religious oratorios. Serving as the orchestra for the work is a superb guest ensemble: the Szent István Philharmonic. The conductor for the production, Csaba Somos, has headed the Hungarian National Choir since January 2016.
Franz LISZT: Christus
Zita VÁRADI, Ágnes SZALAI - soprano
Atala SCHÖCK - alto
Dániel PATAKY - tenor
János FÁTRAI - baritone
Krisztián CSER - bass
Szent István Philharmonic
Hungarian National Choir (Choirmaster: Csaba SOMOS)
Choir of the Zoltán Kodály Hungarian Choir School (Choirmasters: Borbála SAPSZON and Ferenc SAPSZON)
Conductor: Csaba SOMOS
Organizer: Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra
Featured picture: Krisztián Cser