Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross
Frans Brüggen, cond; O of the 18th Century (period instruments)
GLOSSA 921109 (49:16)
The latest version of Haydn’s original orchestral work is sublime, a touching, gentle rendition of the music that benefits from a warm acoustic that casts a glow around the performers. The pacing
is sensible, a rather solemn maestoso to begin, followed by a more lively largo for the first word. The progress of the music unfolds inevitably, concluding with a stormy
that is not overdone. Brüggen feels the meaning of the music, it would seem, and conveys his sense to the players. Unlike several other recordings of this edition, such as Antoni Ros Marba, Julius Rudel, and the recent John Storgards, the repeats are omitted.
For a work that has had 106 recordings by my count, some distinctions are necessary. Many efforts have been made to situate the music in the setting of its commission, when the movements each followed a sermon on the gospel text, like a meditation. I know of 11 versions that supply some form of recitation that more or less fits the bill. Another inserts chant responsories that don’t quite make the same point, since responsories are themselves meditations on readings. The new version is unique in adding brief orchestral interludes commissioned from Ron Ford. There are six of them, tracked at the beginning of the second to seventh words. In style they contrast with the classic Haydn, but at 15 to 20 seconds each, they are almost too short to signify much of anything. They are certainly not long enough to be a serious distraction. I find them superfluous, but they don’t disable a superb recording.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Intermezzi (6) by Ron Ford
Orchestra of the 18th Century
Period: 20th Century
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