Tall Poppies


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Joseph Haydn: The Seven Last Words of Christ

Geoffrey Lancaster Ė fortepiano

$23   (Australian dollars)


buy at: AMC - Buywell

This is one of the most extraordinary of Haydnís late works. Five versions exist, including the original orchestral work. This keyboard version was made by his publisher, Artaria, and was thoroughly approved by the composer. It is a work full of passion and contemplation and given a superlative performance. It is the first Australian recording of this piece, and it shines in comparison to the six other performances currently available on CD.

Tall Poppies is delighted to be given permission to reproduce Roy de Maistre's superb "Christ on the Cross" to give a visual insight into this profound piece of music.

The recording was made with the assistance of Edith Cowan University.

Joseph HaydnIntroduction
Sonata I Pater, dimitte illis, quia nesciunt, quid faciunt
Sonata II Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso
Sonata III Mulier, ecce filius tuus
Sonata IV Deus meus, ut quid dereliquisti me?
Sonata V Sitio
Sonata VI Consummatum est
Sonata VII In manus tuas, Domine, commendo Spiritum meum
Postlude Il Terremoto


Veteran Australian keyboardist Dr Geoffrey Lancaster has had a busy time of it in the recording studios recently.

Not only is he continuing his survey of all of Joseph Haydnís keyboard sonatas, using a variety of fortepianos from the ANU School of Musicís early instruments collection ó Vol 4 is out now ó but he has also recorded a witty and charming trio of Mozart piano sonatas, including the A major K331 famous for its Rondo alla Turca.

And on top of that comes a beautiful version of Haydnís the Seven Last Words of Christ, more often heard in string quartet or full orchestral form. The composer fully approved of the keyboard version and, despite some nagging doubts before putting this on my CD player, I can confirm that with Lancasterís masterly command of articulation, expression and dynamic, the composer was right.

Far from fears that a mere fortepiano would lack the dramatic depth for this long and extraordinary deeply felt composition, Lancaster imbues it with great spirituality and compelling beauty of line. At 75 minutes long and comprising nine slow movements (an introduction and turbulent postlude with seven sonatas representing the seven utterances of Christ from the cross), the listenerís attention and appreciation never wavers. Itís a remarkable achievement.

The fourth volume of Lancasterís new recording of the Haydn cycle ó he recorded some of them for ABC Classics but the Tall Poppies set is far superior ó features the final three works. Itís generally accepted that Haydn composed 55 sonatas, but because when they were categorised there were several doubtfully attributed to him we get Nos 60, 61 and 62 on this disc.

Composed in 1794 they are full of the composerís trademark wit and, like his mature string quartets, they display a considerable range of emotions and moods. As is his custom Lancaster eases the listener into each work with a brief improvised prelude in the same key as the work that follows.

He adopts the same approach for the Mozart, an album which marks Lancasterís return to the composer for Tall Poppies after 26 years. He recorded Unexpurgated Mozart with the Song Company in 1991.

The Mozart set is a delight from start to finish and Lancaster is not averse to having some fun, especially with the Rondo where he uses rubato liberally and even improvises a mini-cadenza, something that the composer was known to do on occasions.

Lancaster performs on a fortepiano based on an 1805 Anton Walter & Sohn ó Mozart owned one of his instruments ó which was built by Peter McNulty in 2011. Its sound is surprisingly full, once your ear adjusts from Steinway mode.

The album covers feature Australian artists. Fred Williams for the Haydn sonatas, Roy de Maistre for the Seven Last Words and Polish artist Gosia Wlodarczak, a friend of Lancaster who used to live in Perth, for the Mozart.
© Steve Moffatt,
Wentworth Courier
May 10, 2018

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