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.
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.
Sylvain Cambreling is one of the leading French operatic conductors. He is known for his often startling innovations in many opera productions: in a performance of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at the 2001 Salzburg Festival he employed a synthesizer to deliver recitative accompaniments, and at a performance of Janácek's Katya Kabanova, he used some of the composer's songs as transitional material between acts.
There can be few more complete examples of a corpus of music fulfilling its practical function with the greatest sum of pleasure and art than the Haydn Masses. True, some Puritan souls for whom seriousness is incompatible with being seriously joyful have found them a problem. Yet even non-believers can accept their liturgical structures as vessels for exquisite music, like opera enjoyed for its beautiful tunes, divorced from plot and staging…
It's an interesting idea to have seven symphonies by Franz Joseph Haydn performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker, but led by five different conductors. This recording offers Christoph von Dohnányi's No. 12 from 1991, Zubin Mehta's No. 22 from 1972, Franz Welser-Möst's No. 26 from 1998 and No. 98 from 2009, Nikolaus Harnoncourt's No. 93 and No. 103 from 2009, and Pierre Boulez's No. 104 from 1996.