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Fanfare Magazine: 3343 (03-04 / 2010) 
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AVDVD 9868

Reviewer: J. F. Weber

The audio portion of this DVD was favorably reviewed earlier (31:5); even the artwork on the package is the same. The video portion recreates the concert given in the Santa Cueva in Cadiz, the site for which the music was commissioned and the recording venue for the audio as well. The notes rightly call it a historic production, the first recording of the original score made in the site where it was first performed. It is Savall’s second version, repeating the recitation of the relevant Gospel passages before each movement, passages long enough to put the familiar “words” (sentences, actually) in context.

There is more here. The CD had the Gospel passages on the recording, and there were two meditations printed in the booklet. One was called “the seven last words of Christ on the Cross” by Ramon Panikkar, an author of several spiritual books. The other was called “the seven words of man” by José Saramago, the 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize for literature and author of The Gospel according to Jesus Christ (Harcourt Brace, 1994). The latter meditation is called a humanistic approach, a meditation by Jesus in his human nature. On the DVD we can hear the concert alone, including the Gospel passages; either of the two sets of meditations read by their authors; or the concert with either set of meditations inserted in place of the Gospel passages (by means of clever programming of the disc’s various tracks). In addition, there are two interviews (monologs, actually) by Savall and by Father Guillermo D. Leonsegui (I could not access the latter interview).

Since Savall’s performance is so fine to begin with, this DVD is a richer presentation of the Haydn masterpiece than any other recording. The camera departs from the Santa Cueva on occasion to show a typical Spanish Good Friday procession such as I witnessed in Cuenca a few years ago. Anyone who cherishes this work will want to have this, even if one already has several superb recordings of the music in its string quartet or choral formats. This uniquely captures the spiritual meaning of the music.


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