Here’s a 1951 performance of the Amadeus Quartet playing Haydn‘s Seven Last Words of Christ in its later reduced version for string quartet (in addition to the original full orchestra version and later choral and piano versions). Haydn composed it in 1785 for Good Friday celebrations at the Cádiz Cathedral in Spain, explaining the unique experience as such:
The walls, windows, and pillars of the church were hung with black cloth, and only one large lamp hanging from the centre of the roof broke the solemn darkness. At midday, the doors were closed and the ceremony began. After a short service the bishop ascended the pulpit, pronounced the first of the seven words (or sentences) and delivered a discourse thereon. This ended, he left the pulpit and fell to his knees before the altar. The interval was filled by music. The bishop then in like manner pronounced the second word, then the third, and so on, the orchestra following on the conclusion of each discourse. (source)
We’re a bit early for Good Friday, but the reason I bring this up now is that there’s a performance at the Metropolitan Museum this Friday at 7pm featuring Salzburg Chamber Soloists in yet another adaptation, for string orchestra.
In keeping with the original multimedia experience, the Met invited Israeli-born, New York-based artist Ofri Cnaani to create a video installation using prints from the Met’s collection. Best of all, the event will be live streamed, so you can enjoy it from home.