In the semi-darkness within a grotto beneath the church of Santo Rosario in Cadiz, the bishop pronounced one of the seven Last Words of Christ, then, during the ensuing silence, the orchestra played… Commissioned from Haydn in 1786, these seven mystical sonatas, with their sombre melody, take their inspiration from the rhythm of each of the seven Words. Preceded by a noble Prelude and followed by an impressive Terremoto (Earthquake), there have been various versions (piano, string quartet, vocal), but here they are presented in the original version and with all the glowing colours of the Concert des Nations.
On this recording of The Seven Words, the Rosamunde String Quartet offers a compelling rendition of one of Haydn's most complex compositions. The Seven Words was originally composed for a full orchestra as a series of seven adagios, which were meant to be interludes during a congregation's meditations on the last seven words of Christ on the Cross. Haydn struggled with a way to compose seven connected pieces of music that were solemn and yet varied enough to keep the listener from getting bored. The members of the Rosamunde Quartet are technically brilliant as they demonstrate the composer's solutions to this musical puzzle. Even though the tempo is slow, they never let the music become ponderous or oppressive. But to Haydn, The Seven Words was more than just an aural conundrum. He felt the composition was perhaps his most sacred work, and the quartet plays this music with reverence for the composer's spiritual intentions. This is a profound piece of music, and the Rosamunde does it justice on each of its many levels.
At last there is a Haydn Stabat mater within easy reach. The piece is seldom performed and even more rarely recorded, and this despite the fact that it contains some of the composer's most rich and deeply felt writing. One of the few works not written to order (Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy was less than keen on encouraging the sacred duties of his Kapellmeister) the Stabat mater is also one Haydn himself grew to respect highly, and Trevor Pinnock's performance makes it clear why.
The oratorio "The Creation" is one of the highlights of Joseph Haydn's late oeuvre. The work, first performed in 1798, is considered the most successful work by the great composer and, at the same time, a prime example of the classical oratorio. The present recording of the creation dates from 1975. In the leading roles will sing the award-winning American soprano Helen Donath, the German tenor Adalbert Kraus and the Swiss bass baritone Kurt Widmer. They will be accompanied by the alto Vera Scherr as well as the Süddeutsche Madrigalchor and the Festival Orchestra Ludwigsburg, under the direction of Wolfgang Gönnenwein, the longtime artistic director of the festival (1972 to 2004).
This 37-disc box set is the only brand new and fully digital recording of the complete symphonies of Haydn. Performed by the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester (Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra) and conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, the recordings were done live in connection with concerts of the whole cycle. The series received fantastic reviews by the press, and The Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra was awarded the European Chamber Music Prize in 2008.