Haydn - The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross | Etcetera KTC1649

Haydn - The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross


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Label: Etcetera

Cat No: KTC1649

Barcode: 8711801016498

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 29th March 2019



In March 1801 Joseph Haydn wrote the following words about his ‘The Seven Last Words Of Our Saviour’: “About fifteen years ago, a dean of Cadiz asked me to write instrumental music on the seven words of our Saviour on the Cross. The habit there was to play an oratorio in the cathedral of Cadiz in the passion week.

“At noon all doors were closed and the music sounded. After an appropriate introduction the bishop mounted the pulpit, spoke one of the Seven Words and gave a sermon thereupon. After that he left the pulpit and fell kneeling before the altar. During this pause the music sounded. The bishop mounted and left the pulpit for each Word and each time the orchestra sounded at the end of the sermon. To this event my music had to be appropriated. The composition of these seven Adagios, which should last about ten minutes each, was no mean task : soon I discovered that I couldn’t keep to the prescribed duration. Originally the music was without text and as such it was printed too.”

The original version of this masterpiece (which arguably did the most for Haydn’s European reputation), was not the oratorio-version we hear regularly nowadays but indeed the much more rarely performed version for orchestra alone - written around 1786.

In 1787 Haydn presented his work immediately in three versions: the original orchestra-version, a version for string quartet and a piano transcription which is what we hear on this recording, performed on an historical Bosendorfer piano. The seven slow movements - eight even if we count the Introduzione - show such great variety of resource in the musical invention, in the choice of the themes, in the rhythm as well as in the tonal and expressive colouring that we are quite unconscious of the fact that this is a succession of pieces with the same speed, dimension and form. A highly recommended recording.

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