About fifteen years ago I was requested by a prebendary of Cadiz Cathedral to compose instrumental music for the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross. At that time it was customary for an oratorio to be performed every year during Lent in the Cathedral of Cadiz, and its effect must certainly hare been considerably enhanced by the setting: the walls, windows and columns of the church were draped with black cloth and the holy gloom was illuminated by a single great lamp hanging in the middle.
At the hour of noon all the doors were closed, and now the music began. After an appropriate prelude the Bishop mounted the pulpit, read out one of the Seven Words and proceeded to a meditation upon it. When this was over he left the pulpit and prostrated himself before the altar. The ensuing pause was occupied by the music. The Bishop then mounted and left the pulpit for a second and third time, and so on, the orchestra playing an intermezzo between each of his meditations.
My composition was supposed to fit this procedure. The task of composing a series of seven Adagios, each meant to last about ten minutes, was far from easy; and I soon discovered that I could not confine myself to the time allotted. Originally the music was without a text and it was printed in this form. Only later was I occasioned to insert the text, with the result that the Oratorio «The Seven Words of the Saviour on the Cross» is now being published for the first time by Messrs. Breithopf and Härtel in Leipzig as a complete work, which is, as far as the vocal music is concerned, completely new.
The favour which this work is finding with discriminating connoisseurs allows me to hope that it will not fail to make its effect on a wider public too».
Vienna, March 1801.
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Recorded in the Church of Notre-Dame de Pédralbès in Barcelonne in December 1965
2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, string orchestra
Maestroso et adagio; ré m.
Pater, dimitte illis, quia nesciunt quid faciunt. Father forgive them because they don't know what they're doing
2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, string orchestra - Largo; B flat M.
Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso. Today you will be with me in paradise
2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, string orchestra - Grave e cantabile; ut m.
Mulier, ecce filius tuus. Mother, this is your son.
1 flute-solo, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, string orchestra - Grave; mi M.
Deus meus, Deus meus, ut quid dereliquisti me ? My God why did you abandon me?
2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, string orchestra - Largo; fa M.
Sitio. I am thirsty.
2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, string orchestra - Adagio; the M.
Consummatum est. Everything is consumed.
flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, string orchestra - Lento; soil m.
In manus tuas. Domine, commendo spiritum meum. Into your hands, Lord, I commit my spirit.
2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, string orchestra - Largo; mi b. Mr.
Terremoto. The earthquake
1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, string orchestra - Presto e con tutta la forza ; ut m.