Stacks Image 921

Franz Liszt labored intermittently on his “musical last will and testament,” Christus, for nearly twenty years. J. Schuberth & Co. published Christus in 1872, Kahnt in 1873. Liszt supervised the publication and checked the score plates. One might therefore surmise that the final version would be free from error, and would contain each and every musical expression, performance indication, dynamic marking, and articulation that Liszt set down in the manuscript.

Unfortunately, careless copyists, inept editors and hasty proofing by Liszt himself produced a published score that is an incomplete representation of his masterpiece; indeed, the mistakes were so numerous that Liszt even prepared an errata sheet in 1886. Liszt knew that Schuberth did not always maintain the highest level of quality control. Consequently, the Christus that now exists in published—and, thus in recorded—form is not the Christus that Liszt set down on music paper, in his cell at the monastery of Madonna del Rosario outside Rome.

Primary sources included a digitized version of the manuscript, the 1872/4 Schuberth edition—which contains the abridgements authorized by Liszt for the 1873 Weimar premier performance—both from the British Library, reproductions of the fair copy from the Goethe-Schiller Archiv, and pages from the score of Christus that Liszt gave to Hans Richter after the 1873 Jubilee performance in Budapest from the Hungarian National Library in Budapest. This edition is a good faith attempt to restore the several layers of expression that were inadvertently peeled away from Liszt’s initial outpouring as documented in his autograph manuscript.

Liszt, Franz. Christus. Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag, 2006–2008. 
For the first time, Franz Liszt’s autograph manuscript of his masterpiece Christus, currently held in the British Library, is available online. Click to download. Be patient: the file is 28 megabytes.




Reviews of Christus

Stacks Image 955
Christus
The real value of [Friddle’s] edition [of Christus] is in the preface on performance practice. What a goldmine of information! Every conductor should either own it or be in close proximity to a library that owns it.
   So the value of Friddle’s Preface is not in discovering important new material, but rather in having all this information in one meticulously researched and well articulated document. For this we thank him. If a single volume on choral performance practice across the centuries is ever written, he should probably be the author.The real value of [Friddle’s] edition [of Christus] is in the preface on performance practice. What a goldmine of information! Every conductor should either own it or be in close proximity to a library that owns it.

—American Choral Review, Volume 53 Number 2, Summer/Fall 2011

Stacks Image 959


Insightful Restoration

The editor of this new edition for Bärenreiter, David Friddle, apparently found the Schuberth edition unreliable, containing, as Liszt acknowledged, a fair number of inaccuracies which even he failed to adjust. These led Friddle back to the only fair copy in the Goethe-Schiller Archiv in Weimar, and his impressive edition is, as he admits, ‘a good faith attempt to restore the several layers of expression that were inadvertently peeled away from Liszt’s initial outpouring…’
   Friddle has provided a useful extended essay as a Preface, drawing on the authoritative insights on 19th-century performance practice of Riemann, Grove and the more recent Classical & Romantic Performing Practice by Clive Brown. Liszt’s slurs in the vocal parts are articulation. It is very handsomely produced; the Pater noster is even printed with Liszt’s alternative single statement (…deliver us…). But we are given a note on the International Phonetic Alphabet employed throughout, distinguishing German from English-speaking Latin, and a glossary of Liszt’s more unusual directives.

—Choir & Organ, September 2007

Stacks Image 961


Zur wahren Andacht erheben

Ebenso lobenswert ist—neben der erwartbaren philologischen Genauigkeit des Notentextes under Berücksichtigung aller Quellen und der Sorgfalt im Notensatz—das informative Vorwart von David Friddle. Darin geht der Herausgeber ausführlich auf Fragen der Artikulation, Phrasierung, des Tempos and Vibratos im 19. Jahrhundert und sogar auf das damals völlig revolutionäre Dirigat Liszts ein. Gerade ein so bemerkenswertes und sowohl konzeptionell als auch musikalisch singuläres Werk wie Liszts Christus hätte es ganz besonders verdient.

To Foster True Devotion
Equally laudable, in addition to the philological accuracy of the music under consideration taken from all sources and the expertise of the musical notation, is the preface by David Friddle. The editor details issues of articulation, phrasing, tempo and vibrato in the 19th century and, even at that time, what a revolutionary conductor Liszt was. Precisely because it is so remarkable, both conceptually and musically, as well as one of the singular works of Liszt, Christus especially deserves this new edition.

—Musik und Kirche, März/April 2008, No. 2

Stacks Image 963


Christus

Liszts monumentales romantisches Oratorium mit seinen starken Kontrasten liegt erstmals in einer auf allen verfügbaren Quellen beruhenden Ausgabe vor. Ein umfangreicher Einleitungstext informiert über aufführungspraktische Fragen, so über Liszts Dirigierprinzipien—nur das Nötigste und nicht ein regelmässiges Taktschlagen—und über Orchesteraufstellungen. Interessant, das der Chor meist vor und nicht hinter dem Orchester stand. Ausführlich behandelt wird das Instrumentarium, wie es Liszt suz Verfugung stand.

Liszt’s monumental oratorio, with its strong contrasts, is for the first time published in an edition that is based on all available sources. An extensive introduction provides information on performance practice issues, such as Liszt’s conducting principles—only the bare minimum and not a steady beat—and orchestral seating. Interesting, that the chorus stood in front of and not behind the orchestra. Orchestral instruments that were available in Liszt’s time are discussed in great detail.


—Musik und Gottesdienst,
62. Jahrgang, Mai 2008

©2019 David Friddle     Communicate