Ian Wilson: The Seven Last Words

Ian Wilson The Seven Last Words
The Seven Last Words

Ian Wilson: The Seven Last Words

Year of composition:
Piano trio no. 2
Scored for:
for violin, violoncello and piano
Ian Wilson
Instrumentation details:
Commissioned by Kammerspiel with funds from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
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The Seven Last Words

Work introduction

The second and third piano trios were written for Kammerspiel, whose initial request for a substantial work eventually provoked me to turn for inspiration to the last words of Christ on the cross, more particularly to Haydn's string quartet based around those texts (Matthew, ch. 27; Luke, ch. 23; John, ch. 19).

The Seven Last Words is a more concise treatment of the scriptural passages than that of Haydn and is intended to be experienced as a journey, both emotional and spiritual. It is cast in a single movement, although the sections are clearly delineated – eleven in all, including introduction, interludes, and epilogue. While each of the seven 'words' informs and inspires distinct sections of the piece, in general they provide only a starting point with regard to a sense of feeling or meaning. The individuality of each text is less important than the overall direction from first to last. Indeed, the seven main sections fall readily into three broader ones, with the first three texts focussing on other people ("Father, forgive them..."; "This day you will be with me in Paradise"; "Mother, behold thy son..."), the fourth and fifth concerning Christ's own suffering ("My God, why have you forsaken me?"; "I thirst"), and the last two his resignation to his fate ("It is finished"; "Into thy hands I commend my spirit").

The interludes appear between these broader sections, as if contemplating the drama from a distance, and are based on the opening introductory material. As a further unifying device, the same four notes are used motivically at the beginning of each main section, and then developed separately providing a common thematic basis.

Ian Wilson

Special prints

The Seven Last Words

Ian Wilson: The Seven Last Words

score and parts
for violin, violoncello and piano , 27’

World première

Conway Hall, London (GB)

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