Come Good Friday, J.C. had a tough day at the office. This signal event generated art and kitsch in equal measure; Rogier van der Weyden tips the scales in favour of the former by the barest of margins. Haydn does likewise. Indeed, his Seven Last Words, framed by an Introduction and Earthquake, is a Passion in its own right. It is by no means easy to listen to seven adagios in a row. One has to be in a certain frame of mind (say, tax-time or a hangover) to tackle this masterpiece.
As we all know, the Seven Last Words exists in various media. As I dislike the choral setting, my allegiances are the Prazak Quartet in the chamber-music setting, Brautigam on the fortepiano, the Baker Street Boys in the version for a barbershop quartet, and McCabe on a Steinway. SLW was originally written for an orchestra; I'm glad that Armin Jordan and the Orchestra of Paris have come my way: I no longer have to listen to Muti (x 2) or Savall (the latter offers his own equivalent of the sponge dipped in vinegar).
This is a gutsy, dedicated performance underwritten by a fine analogue recording. It is reverential but not at the expense of drama: the Orchestra de Paris certainly bets the house. Even so, there is a background 'hush' to the performance. One attention spans the seven meditations. Catharsis ensues with the earthquake.
With Bulgakov at hand, does it enable the listener to behold "he whom they have pierced", dying by the side of a grotty road running into the Holy City? I don't know. But this music, played as such, is an answer to jesting Pilate.