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Haydn Seven Last Words at Maulbrunn Monastery
Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie/Alan Buribayev
& Pr. Walter Gens

K&K 97

To my surprise, most recordings of the Seven Last Words by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) are in the String Quartet version, and frankly to admit, I find seven slow movements in sequence too many...

This is an engrossing and wholly recommendable live performance in the original Cadiz version for large orchestra, consisting of Seven Sonatas with an Introduction and an Earthquake at the End, premiered on Good Friday 1786 in the Church of Santa Cueva.

This performance gains in atmosphere and additional dimension from being punctuated by seven short spoken meditations by poeta dictus Walter Jen. He provided narrative interludes in the concert, with modern observations on the Words of Christ, bringing Haydn's "observations" into the intellectual present. The texts are translated in the booklet, and can be omitted when programming the CD if desired.

It is a welcome addition to K&K's lovingly prepared series of sacred works, mostly oratorios, given before audiences at Maulbrunn, where their recordings are ideally balanced and benefit from the monastery's acoustic.

We approached it with a little trepidation, expecting to sample the movements in small groups. In the event, we found ourselves playing the CD straight through, engrossed and involved in this important work, which should be on your Easter list.

Do look at K&K's unique presentation of this disc on their website, with a great deal of information and session pictures - plus sound extracts if you don't trust me!

Londoners can hear the Seven Last Words of Haydn given by The Artea Quartet with Tim Pigott-Smith (speaker) in a Park Lane Group recital on Good Friday, 14 April 2006, Purcell Room 7:45 pm

© Peter Grahame Woolf