Haydn: Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Altara
WORKS: Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross
PERFORMER: Navarra Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: ALT 1040

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Haydn composed his Seven Last Words for a religious community in Cadiz in 1787 as an orchestral work. Arrangements followed as
an oratorio, for keyboard (which was approved rather than undertaken by the composer) and string quartet, the latter arguably distilling the work to its most concentrated essence.

From a technical point of view the modern-instrument playing of the UK-based Navarra Quartet has nothing to fear by comparison, and their church acoustic offers a fine balance between substance and surround, helping the players realise the music’s essential intensity. They score highly with their vivid sense of dramatic expression in an intensely detailed performance. Again in the Earthquake, they provide a sense of insecurity as well as physical shock.

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As a bonus, the CD contains an eight-minute video documentary about the paintings inspired by Haydn’s work by artist Jamie Boyd, father of the quartet’s cellist, plus fine downloadable reproductions of his canvases, which are also printed in the booklet. George Hall