Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross
Ysaÿe Qrt; Michel Serres (spkr)
YSAźE 07 (72:03
The new format of a CD-sized book with the disc slipped into the cover has appeared recently. I have seen two of the Orlando Consort on Harmonia Mundi, one of Montserrat Figueras on her own Alia Vox label, and now this on the quartet’s own label (others must certainly exist). It’s a handsome package, eminently suitable for gift giving, as I
observed at a recent meeting. With respect to adding something akin to the sermons that were woven between the movements of the first performance in Cadiz, this is at least the 10th recording of this work (in all of its arrangements). Michel Serres, a prolific author and member of the Académie Française, delivers his own meditations before each movement, first pronouncing Christ’s word, then developing a meditation on its significance, concluding with the word again now characterized by his unique understanding. The spoken French can be followed in a choice of four translations, and the book is further illustrated with evocative photographs by Gérard Rondeau. Music, words, and photos are designed to create a threefold evocation of the subject of sin, death, and redemption.
The quartet plays with more than average rhythmic edge, unfolding the music forcefully but not excessively. While this masterpiece can always lead the listener to contemplation, the threefold presentation of this version invites a complete absorption of the mind. While a hundred other versions (there must be still others unknown to me) can do the same, this does it more effectively than most. It is harder to put the disc on a player as mere background music while the book is inviting a more complete absorption in the music. The presentation of this well-wrought recording stands out in a crowded field.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Seven last words of Christ on the Cross, Op. 51/H 3 no 50-56 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Michel Serres (Spoken Vocals)
Ysa˙e String Quartet
Written: 1787; Eszterhazá, Hungary
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