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Glowing Review of Haydn’s ‘Seven Last Words’

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SAQ in St. Matthias Episcopal Church. Photo courtesy of Gillian Giglierano.

“…a performance of rapt beauty.”

For the Easter season, members of Sonata à Quattro (Kangwon Kim and Nathan Giglierano, violins, Marika Fischer Hoyt, viola, and Charlie Rasmussen, cello) offered Haydn’s dramatic setting of the seven last words (or phrases) of Jesus on the cross.

Commissioned by the southern Spanish episcopal city of Cádiz, this piece was originally scored for orchestra, but it enjoyed such an immediate, widespread acclaim, that the publication in 1787 also included arrangements for string quartet, and for piano. In nine movements beginning with an Introduction, Haydn sets the phrases, from ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ to ‘Into Thy hands I commend my spirit,’ concluding with one final movement depicting an earthquake.

SAQ performed this piece during the Good Friday service at St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Waukesha, and gave a repeat performance at Oakwood Village West, in Madison. John Barker, music critic of Isthmus, attended the latter performance, and reviewed it on The Well-Tempered Ear.

You can read Mr. Barker’s review here.