3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An unusual and even rare compilation featuring the wonderful Wunderlich,
This review is from: Christ on the Mount of Olives (Audio CD)
Odd that even as I write you can pay the earth for this disc yet it is also available on Amazon.uk Marketplace for a few pounds. There are lots of reasons for acquiring it - but not too expensively - not least, to hear Fritz Wunderlich in finest voice, reminding us what was lost when he died nine days before his thirty-sixth birthday: one of the most headily beautiful lyric tenors ever. His was not a large voice but he was so musical and refined without ever sounding like one of those throaty, constricted British tenors I shall not mention; his was a very virile and forthright sound nonetheless capable of great nuance and sweetness. Everything here shows off his voice to advantage, but I particularly like the Beethoven songs; his "Adelaide" challenges the peerless Björling version and the Rosenmüller excerpt is a Baroque rarity.
The sound is really very good for a live 1957 recording; there is some print-through and harshness but the solo voices in particular are very clear. It might be an early work, and the thirty-two-year-old composer is evidently not entirely confortable with the idiom, but some passages, such as the stately, pacing introduction, are already vintage Beethoven. It is already more of an opera than an oratorio, and thus, despite the obvious influence of Mozart, the recitatives and choral passages are often proleptic of "Fidelio"; there is a typical directness and honesty of expression so typical of Beethoven.
The other two singers also provide pleasure. Spoorenberg has a clear, sappy, vibrant tone and Hermann Schey, although obviously already mature of voice and well advanced into his long career, knows what he is doing, despite the slightly laboured vibrato. The Terzett (Band 6) is especially lovely. The orchestra and chorus are somewhat recessed compared with the prominence of the solo voices but the latter are what you really want to hear in any case. I am not bothered by the incongruities of style here when it is performed with such conviction and artistry, and though it would be idle to claim that this is a neglected masterwork, it is certainly worth acquiring given its appeal on several different fronts.