Search - Frank [1] Martin, Recorded Sound, Alois Koch :: Frank Martin: Golgotha

Frank Martin: Golgotha
Frank [1] Martin, Recorded Sound, Alois Koch
Frank Martin: Golgotha
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

Another Fine Version of a Great 20th Century Passion
Nicholas A. Deutsch | New York, NY USA | 05/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The great Swiss composer Frank Martin's Passion oratorio GOLGOTHA (1945-48) was inspired by a viewing of a Rembrandt etching known as 'The 3 Crosses'; the composer felt compelled to undertake the daunting project without a commission or guarantee of performance. The result was one of the most direct & moving of all 20th century religious works, which only grows in stature with the passage of time. In a stroke of inspiration, Martin framed & punctuated the narrative (a mixture of passages from the Gospel accounts) with excerpts from the Meditations of St. Augustine. These 7 sections, which serve some of the functions of the arias & chorales in the Bach Passions, are among the most beautiful & heart-piercing that Martin ever wrote, which is saying a great deal.

This live 2004 version from Lucerne is a fine achievement. The conductor, Alois Koch, 2 of the soloists, & some of the chorus were featured to good effect in a 2001 release of Martin's Christmas oratorio LE MYSTERE DE LA NATIVITE [MGB CD 6173] but this performance is even better, with a strong, evenly matched team of 5 soloists. Koch leads a secure, commited reading, the sound is very good, & the final result is gripping and satisfying.

This is the 5th version of GOLGOTHA to be released on CD. Those new to the piece should consider not only availability & price but accompanying materials - if you are fluent in French and/or German you have more attractive options. Alas, the finest version of all, the 1968 composer-supervised version conducted by Robert Faller (Erato Ultima 3984-24237-2)- currently unavailable - inexcusably comes without text or translation. The 1994 one under Michel Corboz (Cascavelle VEL 3004) has both, but some of the scenes seem underenergized, & there is some less than ideal solo work. My favorite among modern versions is an electrifying 1998 performance from Vienna conducted by Herbert Bock, sung in communicative French by largely non-French forces. This has been issued twice: the Hanssler Classic version comes with French text & German, English & Spanish translations; I understand that the bargain reissue (Brilliant Classics) has only French. This new Musiques Suisses release has French & German only, although there is a full English translation of Martin's typically lucid notes, which include a brief scene-by-scene synopsis. I don't recommend the 5th version (Audite), partly because it's sung in German translation, but mainly because I find the performance disappointingly sluggish.