Eugen Jochum (1 November 1902 – 26 March 1987) was an eminent German conductor. He became famous primarily as an interpreter of Anton Bruckner's works. He became the first conductor to perform a complete recording of the nine symphonies of this composer.
It's not as if recordings of the 62 Piano Sonatas of Franz Josef Haydn are thick on the ground. Among the relative big names, there's Jeno Jando on Naxos and John McCabe on Decca. Among the less well-known names, there's Walid Akl on Koch Discover, Roland Batik on Camerata, Ronald Brautigam on BIS, Walter Olbertz on Berlin Classics, and Christine Schornsheim on Capriccio. And for those listeners with record players and aging memories, there's also the venerable Hungaroton cycle, the first complete recorded cycle, that coupled relatively well-known Hungarians like Zoltán Kocsis and Dezsö Ránki with nearly unknown Hungarians like János Sebestyén and the inimitable Zsuzsa Pertis.
In 1926 Eugene Jochum made his successful concert debut as a conductor. He acquired a repertory of over 50 operas and conducted concerts all over Germany. The acknowledgment of his excellence led to his appointment as musical director for Berlin radio. His reputation grew particularly in the field of the German Romantic Symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner and was presented with the Brahms medal by the city of Hamburg. This series is a compilation of his complete EMI recordings delivered with exceptional audio quality and artistic integrity.
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.
These three masses are early works but Bruckner had already gestated into Bruckner by the time of their composition. His symphonies regularly quote motifs from these works; they resonated in his mind down the years (and in fact, the F Minor Mass was written as a palliative gesture when the poor bugger was madder than usual).