Joseph Haydn had so much to say. I remember digging out the classic work on the string quartets by Reginald Barrett- Ayres, and writing an essay on the use of Sonata form in one of the middle quartets. Only to have it returned with terribly disparaging comments. "Idiot! Haydn took sonata form and completely transformed it - you can't use ANY of these for goodness sake!"
Well, I don't know, that was 1st year at Uni, and a VERY long time ago. But that dear music teacher was quite right!
So far - I've only scratched the surface - this is a garden of delight. These pieces are sweetness and light itself, hardly a fragment of darkness at all. What is surprising is the constant surprise and sophistication of them all. Within the fairly new medium Haydn excels and seems to land in the middle of the beautiful writing style without rehearsal or defect. I have yet to hear such clarity and simplicity in the 20th century, and yet these pieces are engaging, not an idle moment anywhere.
I wonder if this is what Lewis was hinting at about when he was commenting on our poor imaginations regarding heaven, and our inability to visualise goodness and charity beyond a certain degree. I believe that Haydn was an exceptionaly convinced man of the reality of heaven, (witness "the creation") and doubtlessly is witnessing to that reality here - it's really marvellous if you can receive it through this music!
The seven last words of Christ is a very moving piece - and is the best single example I know of music which embodies a kind of gentle, sad gravity, without a hint of despair or horror. To achieve that is a truly rare thing. The readings chosen to intervene between the string quartet pieces are very good and very uplifting.