For those whose specialist subject is not music of the late eighteenth century, Seven Last Words (the last words of Christ) was composed by Austrian, Joseph Haydn, for the ritual of a solemn Good Friday service in 1786. It being just over a week to Easter, an intimate audience of music lovers, dance enthusiasts and drama aficionados assembled in the majestic Wren church, to have Haydn’s sense of ritual recreated for the twenty first century.
Taking on the artistic feat, conductor Crispin Lewis with period instrument ensemble ‘The Musicall Compass’ and choreographer Jo Meredith mixed contemporary dance, classical music, and the mysterious musings of Oliver Reynolds to create an abstract interpretation of Haydn's masterpiece.
Glimpses of dance and echoes of speech were performed in every alcove of the novel venue but the necessary lighting of the whole church made for a severe and stark atmosphere. Both movement and music lacked the essential dynamics of an exciting performance, relying too heavily on each other and the esoteric dialogue of Reynolds. Seven Last Words gave its eclectic audience much to consider but too little to grasp on to. In spite of this, the concept was refreshing, the performers slick and skillful and a second attempt should not be discounted.