Day 87: Die Sieben Letzen Worte

HaydnCD87Today’s music is the string quartet version of Haydn’s orchestra work The Seven Last Words of Christ (German: Die sieben letzten Worte).

Of course, what one thinks of the string quartet version may depend a great deal on what one thought of the orchestral version, which I wrote about on November 29, 2013.

I wasn’t blown away by the orchestra version. So this stripped down string quartet version isn’t necessarily an improvement.

That’s not to say it’s horrible, though. It’s not. It’s superb. It’s just not something I’d listen to on repeat all day while I write.

Here’s the story behind it from the article on Wikipedia:

At the request of his publisher, Artaria, the composer in 1787 produced a reduced version for string quartet: Haydn’s Opus 51. This is the form in which the music is most often heard today: a group of seven works (Hoboken-Verzeichnis III/50–56), with the Introduction abutting Sonata I and Sonata VII joined by the Earthquake. The first violin part includes the Latin text directly under the notes, which “speak” the words musically.

This version has come under suspicion of authenticity due to an occasionally careless manner of transcription, with crucial wind passages left out and only the accompanimental figures in the strings retained. As a result, some quartets make their own adaptation, working from the orchestral original.


551px-Brooklyn_Museum_-_What_Our_Lord_Saw_from_the_Cross_(Ce_que_voyait_Notre-Seigneur_sur_la_Croix)_-_James_TissotIncidentally, in case you were wondering what those “seven last words” were, this Wiki article explains:

The seven sayings form part of a Christian meditation that is often used during Lent, Holy Week and Good Friday. The traditional order of the sayings is

Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.
Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
John 19:26–27: Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother.
Matthew 27:46: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
John 19:28: I thirst.
Luke 23:46: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
John 19:30: It is finished.

Traditionally, these seven sayings are called words of 1. Forgiveness, 2. Salvation, 3. Relationship, 4. Abandonment, 5. Distress, 6. Reunion and 7. Triumph.

As I have in previous posts, I can’t forget to introduce the members of the Buchberger Quartet (their site is in German):

Hubert Buchberger violin
Julia Greve violin
Joachim Etzel viola
Helmut Sohler cello

The other players in the quartet do not have their own web sites, apparently. So, no link to them. Sorry.

Here’s what I listened to today: