Two olives or three, Mr Beethoven?

Two olives or three, Mr Beethoven?


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2019

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Never one to leave his audience short of music, Beethoven wrote this oratorio for an 1803 Vienna concert that already consisted of his first two symphonies and his third piano concerto. Since he only finished the oratorio on the morning of the concert, rehearsals were scratchy and the musicians bad-tempered. Even at this distance of time, it is hard to tell how they made any sense of this episodic work…

Read on here.

And here.


Bar none.




  • Jean says:

    The sung part is quite interesting: Jesus’ aria to Jehovah.

    The absence of Trinity doctrine is quite clear.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    Yes, very rarely performed. Rattle is doing it – preceeded by Berg Violin Concerto – at the London Barbican next Jan.

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    I rather like this work, which some align with the Cantata Upon The Death of Emperor Joseph II. had it not been for B’s cantata, who would today remember Joseph II? Anyway there is a really good live recorded performance of The Mount of Olives with Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony in that orchestra’s historic recordings box set. I don’t think that this recording was ever commercially released, but it is excellent, IMO.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Christus am Ölberge is no doubt ‘minor’ Beethoven, and there are few recordings, as a rule without ‘great names’. My favorite recording is that conducted by Helmut Rilling with the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart. As always with this ensemble, the interpretations are unpretentious and nearly devotional.