Day 150: Good Bye, Haydn…

HaydnCD150Today’s CD is the pianoforte version of Haydn’s symphony Die Sieben Letzten Worte (the Seven Last Words of Christ), which was composed in 1787. Haydn was 55 years old.

The pianoforte version is played by Bart van Oort.

Originally commissioned for a full orchestra, Die Sieben Letzten is composed of nine movements, described this way:

The seven main meditative sections — labelled “sonatas” and all slow — are framed by an Introduction and a speedy “Earthquake” conclusion, for a total of nine movements…The seven meditations on the Last Words are excerpted from all four gospels. The “Earthquake” movement derives from Matthew 27:51ff. Much of the work is consolatory, but the “Earthquake” brings a contrasting element of supernatural intervention — the orchestra is asked to play presto e con tutta la forza — and closes with the only fortississimo (triple forte) in the piece.

Today’s CD marks the end of my exploration of Haydn’s music. Thanks to the incredible Brilliant Classics record label, I was able to listen to Haydn’s entire creative output.

If you want to hear great music at an affordable price, you cannot go wrong with the Brilliant Classics label. If you want your own 150-CD Haydn Edition, visit Amazon. As of today’s date (February 27, 2014), the Hayden Edition is just $130 for 150 CDs. I’m no math wizard. But according to my calculations that’s less than $1 per disc.

Unheard of. Buy it. You won’t regret it.

So, good bye, Haydn.

Good bye, also to the people from seven countries who visited this blog since the beginning.

Here’s what I listened to today:

Frankly, I prefer van Oort’s pianoforte version over the full orchestra. I think it’s because the pianoforte – along with van Oort’s exceptional talent playing it – helps bring out the emotion of Haydn’s composition.

Piano is often a very melancholy instrument for me., anyway. When it plays Die Sieben it’s a perfect fit.


NOTE: If you’re interested in Woody Allen, stick around. Tomorrow, I start watching everything Woody directed, in chronological order.

Day 60: Seven Last Words of Christ

HaydnCD60I was tempted to come up with a goofy title for today’s blog entry. After all, today marks two continuous months for me, listening to Haydn every day.

But the title of today’s Haydn composition is Die Sieben Letzten Worte, or The Seven Last Words of Christ.

How could I write a goofy headline with a subject matter like that?

Obviously, I couldn’t.

According to its entry on Wikipedia, today’s composition,

is an orchestral work by Joseph Haydn, commissioned in 1785 or 1786 for the Good Friday service at Cádiz Cathedral in Spain. The composer adapted it in 1787 for string quartet and in 1796 as an oratorio (with both solo and choral vocal forces), and he approved a version for solo piano.

The seven main meditative sections — labelled “sonatas” and all slow — are framed by an Introduction and a speedy “Earthquake” conclusion, for a total of nine movements.

Given those dates, Haydn was 54 or 55 when he composed this piece.

I have nothing against Jesus, last words or first. However, Haydn’s Die Sieben Letzten Worte is wearisome. It’s too ponderous (strike that: let’s call it lugubrious) for my tastes. No breakout arias. No orchestration that just knocks me back.

I often wonder if sacred/religious music like this is meant to be heard many decades (or even centuries) after it was composed. To me, it seems akin to somebody setting my prayers to music and releasing it as an album. In other words, making public very private, personal moments. The meaning I intend for that private moment may not be understood by an audience.

But what do I know? I’m not a Continue reading