- Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze (The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross), for string quartet, H. 3/50-56
J. Haydn: Les Sept Dernières Paroles du Christ en Croixby Quatuor Ysaÿe
Ascetic spirituality will always have its aficionados. After all, in some circles, hermits who lived in caves for years and saints who sat on columns for decades still excite admiration. And for ascetics with musical inclinations, there's Haydn's "The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross" in its original string quartet version. Although the composer's later transcriptions of the work for orchestra and for orchestra, chorus, and soloists add color and weight to the string quartet version, they add little to its concentrated intensity. Seven slow movements in a row framed by a Prelude and an Earthquake, the "Seven Last Words" describes in music the last seven sentences spoken by Jesus on the cross. The devotional piety and the sublime terror of Haydn's music is matched by its technical control and emotional restraint, thereby creating an art work which, while perhaps not for everyone, will ineluctably induce a shudder in ascetic souls. And for those souls, there's the Ysaÿe Quartet's 2006 recording of Haydn's "Seven Last Words." With interpolated sermons on the meaning of Jesus' words spoken in French by Michel Serres, the Ysaÿe turns in a performance that is as austerely spiritual as one could wish. This doesn't mean beauty of tone is sacrificed or human warmth is extinguished -- the Ysaÿe's tone is supremely supple and the phrasing is lovingly lyrical -- but it does mean that the interpretation is truly, deeply, profoundly spiritual. Everything -- the inevitable tread of the rhythms, the inner fire of the melodies, the upward balance of the harmonies -- is focused on the above and beyond. Ysaÿe Records' sound places the performers in the same room as the listener. This is somewhat disconcerting when Serres is speaking but nevertheless wholly wonderful when the Ysaÿe is playing.
- Release Date:
- Ysaye France
Performance CreditsQuatuor Ysaÿe Primary Artist
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