2014, Music

Joseph Haydn: Die Sieben letzten Worte (2014) by Cuarteto Casals

This is supposedly an “instrumental” oratorio. Haydn first wrote it for orchestra (with no vocals!). Then he adapted it for String Quartet. Then he adapted it for Choir (as if it was an actual oratorio). Then he “approved” an adaptation for solo piano, but apparently didn’t write that one himself. This is the String Quartet version, obviously. It is considered the most popular version of the piece, which I guess makes me okay with listening to it over the orchestral original.

I am a sucker for String Quartets and Haydn is the Father of them. (He didn’t invent them, but he was the first composer to write a lot of them, and to establish the conventions of the genre.) Given the piece’s origins, it is not a conventional Quartet: it’s nine movements long, for example, instead of the usual three. The music is played every Holy Week in Cadiz, and has been for centuries apparently, so it makes sense to hear a Spanish ensemble’s version.

I have no idea what this is supposed to sound like but I absolutely love this recording. It strikes me as rather sophisticated for its era – it sort of sounds like a collection of separate pieces, like a cycle – and my ears would have a hard time dating it, if I didn’t know when it was written. The music itself is gorgeous and I can understand why it’s so popular.

It’s an absolute masterpiece, and I have trouble putting into words how much I like it.


  1. Introduzione (Maestoso Ed Adagio) 5:18
  2. Sonata I: Vater, Verziehe Ihnen, Denn Sie Wissen Nicht, Was Sie Tun / Pater, Dimitte Illis, Non Enim Sciunt Quid Faciunt (Largo) 5:48
  3. Sonata II Wahrlich, Ich Sage Dir: Heute Noch Wirst Du Mit Mir Im Paradise Sein / Amen Dico Tibi: Hodie Mecum Eris In Paradiso (Grave E Cantabile) 8:21
  4. Sonata Iii: Weib, Seihe Ihr: Dein Sohn, Und Du, Siehe Ihr Deine Mutter / Mulier, Ecce Fulius Tuus, Et Tu, Ecce Mater Tua! (Grave) 9:26
  5. Sonata Iv: Vatter, Vatter, Warum Hast Du Mich Verlassen? / Eli, Eli, Lama Asabthani? (Largo) 6:38
  6. Sonata V: Ich Durste! / Sitio (Adagio) 8:46
  7. Sonata Vi: Es Ist Vollbracht / Consummatum Est! (Lento) 7:39
  8. Sonata Vii: Vater, In Deine Hände Empfehle Ich Meinem Geist / Pater! In Manus Tuas Commendo Spiritum Meum (Largo) 6:30
  9. Terremoto (Presto E Con Tutta La Forza) 1:45
  • Cello – Arnau Tomàs Realp
  • Viola – Jonathan Brown
  • Violin – Vera Martínez Mehner
  • Violin – Abel Tomàs Realp

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