Endellion and Andrew Motion, Norwich
FRANK CLIFF It would seem a brilliant idea of Endellion to commission from the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, seven poetic meditations to accompany Haydn's Seven Last Words of our Saviour from the Cross.
It would seem a brilliant idea of Endellion to commission from the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, seven poetic meditations to accompany Haydn's Seven Last Words of our Saviour from the Cross.
The string quartet version of this work of 1787 – an introduction and seven slow movements or sonatas reflecting on Christ's words and a finale description of the rending of the temple – lasts some 50 minutes, and music rarely finds its way into the concert hall.
Is the work enhanced in a version taking almost twice as long? Though I am certain Haydn's music can stand on its own the answer is probably yes.
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The poet meditates on Christ's words through his communion with and ultimate loss of a 'Stranger Brother'.
Without pretending at a first hearing to any deep understanding (and here a programme note would have been welcome) what impressed was the compelling nature of the language and its complex imagery which seemed to complement the subtlety of the music in a compelling performance by Motion.
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The Endellion were superb, matching their brilliant dramatic playing of the introduction finale with the most exquisite sounds and shades of colour in the slow movements. A fine piece of music theatre.
t The performance took place at Norwich Cathedral.