Jenö Jandó

Haydn: The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross

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Franz Joseph Haydn originally composed The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross as an orchestral work to be performed at Good Friday services, and he subsequently arranged it for string quartet before converting it into an oratorio with vocalists and a choir. The transcription for keyboard was made at the behest of Haydn's publisher and received his approval, though it has been the least performed of the versions and the least recorded. Jenö Jandó's 2014 release on Naxos joins the small number of available recordings (others of note are by John McCabe and Ronald Brautigam), and it is worth hearing as a historical curiosity, if not as a viable version in its own right. The power and gravity of Haydn's original orchestral score is undeniable, and that feeling carries over somewhat into the string quartet version, but the piano transcription pales in comparison and is too far removed from the church usage or Haydn's profound scoring to convey much of the work's mystical import. Indeed, the piano version seems almost abstract, and rather more resembles the slow movements of Haydn's piano sonatas in character and mood, so in its Classical detachment, it is likely to disappoint listeners seeking devotional music.

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