Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Fri, 23 Feb 2024 20:41:04 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Bach – Magnificat Zelenka – Missa Dei Filii (Hengelbrock) [2011] Bach – Magnificat Zelenka – Missa Dei Filii (Hengelbrock) [2011]

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Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745)

(01) Missa Dei Filii (ZWV 20) [39'27"]
(Kyrie; Gloria)

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

(02) Magnificat in E flat (BWV 243a) [38'40"]
(with Christmas interpolations)


(03) Cantata BWV 147 - Jesus bleibet meine Freude

Miriam Alexandra, soprano
Tanya Aspelmeier, soprano
Antonia Bourvé, soprani
Gudrun Sidonie Otto, soprano
Anne Bierwirth, contralto
Marion Eckstein, contralto
Hermann Oswald, tenor
Jakob Pilgram, tenor
Pierrick Boisseau, baritone
Stefan Geyer, bass
Marek Rzepka, bass

Thomas Hengelbrock – dirigent

Dec 3, 2011, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam


Balthasar Neumann Ensemble received resounding praise from the press for its recording of Bach's Magnificat. This performance will include Christmas segments of the piece, which are rarely heard live.

download (mp3 @256 kbs):

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:35:08 +0000
Jan Dismas Zelenka – Complete Orchestral Works (2001) Jan Dismas Zelenka – Complete Orchestral Works (2001)

1. Capriccio No. 2 in G major, ZWV 183: I. Allegro	3:46
2. Capriccio No. 2 in G major, ZWV 183: II. Canarie: Alternativement avec l'Air	0:58	
3. Capriccio No. 2 in G major, ZWV 183: III. Ario		2:09
4. Capriccio No. 2 in G major, ZWV 183: IV. Canarie da capo	0:58	
5. Capriccio No. 2 in G major, ZWV 183: V. Gavotte	1:23	
6. Capriccio No. 2 in G major, ZWV 183: VI. Rondeau	1:09
7. Capriccio No. 2 in G major, ZWV 183: VII. Minuetto - Trio - Minuetto da capo	3:26	
8. Hiponcondrie a 7 in A major, ZWV 187: I. Lentement		2:56	
9. Hiponcondrie a 7 in A major, ZWV 187: II. Fuge: Allegro - Lentement	5:53	
10. Concerto a 8 in G major, ZWV 186: I. (Allegro)	6:39	
11. Concerto a 8 in G major, ZWV 186: II. Largo		4:17	
12. Concerto a 8 in G major, ZWV 186: III. Allegro	7:06	
13. Capriccio No. 3 in F major, ZWV 184: I. Staccato e forte	2:42
14. Capriccio No. 3 in F major, ZWV 184: II. Allegro	3:05
15. Capriccio No. 3 in F major, ZWV 184: III. Allemande	6:12	
16. Capriccio No. 3 in F major, ZWV 184: IV. Menuett - Trio - Menuett da capo	5:30	
17. Capriccio No. 3 in F major, ZWV 184: V. (Allegro)	2:22
1. Capriccio No.5 in G, ZWV.190: (Allegro)
2. Capriccio No.5 in G, ZWV.190: Menuett 1-Menuett 2-Menuett 1 Da Capo
3. Capriccio No.5 in G, ZWV.190: Il Contento-Trio-Il Contento Da Capo
4. Capriccio No.5 in G, ZWV.190: Il Furibundo
5. Capriccio No.5 in G, ZWV.190: Villanella-Trio-Villanella Da Capo
6. Sym in a, ZWV.189: (Allegro)
7. Sym in a, ZWV.189: Andante
8. Sym in a, ZWV.189: Capriccio. Tempo Di Gavotta
9. Sym in a, ZWV.189: Aria Da Capriccio (Andante-Allegro-Andante-Allegro)
10. Sym in a, ZWV.189: (Menuett 1)-(Menuett 2)-(Menuett 1 Da Capo)
11. Capriccio No.1 in D, ZWV.182: Andante-(Allegro)
12. Capriccio No.1 in D, ZWV.182: Paysan
13. Capriccio No.1 in D, ZWV.182: Aria
14. Capriccio No.1 in D, ZWV.182: Bourree
15. Capriccio No.1 in D, ZWV.182: Menuett 1-Menuett 2-Menuett 1 Da Capo 

1. Ouverture a 7 in F Major, ZWV 188: I. Overture	9:01
2. Ouverture a 7 in F Major, ZWV 188: II. Aria		6:04	
3. Ouverture a 7 in F Major, ZWV 188: III. Menuet		2:39
4. Ouverture a 7 in F Major, ZWV 188: IV. [Siciliano]		6:05	
5. Ouverture a 7 in F Major, ZWV 188: V. Folie		2:04	
6. Melodrama de Sancto Wenceslao in D Major, ZWV 175: Symphonia		7:04	
7. Capriccio in A Major, ZWV 185: I. Allegro assai		7:25	
8. Capriccio in A Major, ZWV 185: II. Adagio		2:08	
9. Capriccio in A Major, ZWV 185: III. Aria		6:11
10. Capriccio in A Major, ZWV 185: IV. En tempo de canarie		2:11
11. Capriccio in A Major, ZWV 185: V. Menuet I-II		2:31
12. Capriccio in A Major, ZWV 185: VI. Andante		2:02
13. Capriccio in A Major, ZWV 185: VII. Paysan I-II	2:25

Das Neu-Eröffnete Orchestre
Jurgen Sonnentheil - conductor


Zelenka's orchestral music, like that of Bach and Handel, is only a tiny fraction of his complete output, most of it being vocal--church music in particular. It's some of the most original and enjoyable music of the Baroque period. Bach himself was a colleague and admirer of Zelenka, and other contemporaries praised both his contrapuntal ingenuity, which makes for fascinating combinations of melodies, and the harmonic daring and "spice" of the tunes themselves. In the two Capriccios, the only thing that keeps them from being "greatest hits" is the appalling difficulty of playing them. The horn parts, in particular, are among the most challenging ever composed. Listening to these warm, witty, comfortable performances, you'd never know it. Essential listening for Baroque fans. ---David Hurwitz,


CPO has collected the three volumes of their Zelenka orchestral series and released them in a handy three CD box, complete with three individual booklets. The works covered are the five Capriccios, the Concerto and Simphonie for eight instruments, the Ouverture and Hipocondrie for seven and the Symphonia taken from Zelenka’s Prague Melodrama on St Wenceslas.

The Prague born contemporary of Bach and Telemann was one of the most cosmopolitan of composers. Whilst he lived in Vienna and Prague he spent much of his adult life in Dresden and embodied the westward drift of the Bohemian diaspora. The Instrumental Zelenka is a much less known composer than the Choral; his instrumental works were, in the main, though not exclusively, confined to a five-year period around 1718-23, though the compositional origin and exact dating of many of these works remains somewhat problematical. They have in any case always been overshadowed - as have the exceptionally difficult trio sonatas – by Zelenka’s standing as a leading composer of liturgical music.

The most striking thing about his instrumental works is a kind of textual agility. This is spiced with a highly personalized sense of instrumental colour and to this can be added a sense of form that admits widely diverse material. This produces sometimes astringent sonorities and instrumental juxtapositions that are again both exceptionally individual and characterful. He manages both to reflect contemporary influence and also to exhibit a winning sense of adventure. If this sometimes leads to severe demands on his players – the horn writing in these Capriccios is famously taxing – he at least had a virtuoso body of players to write for. It’s tempting to see him dovetailing sonority, compass and technique to particular musicians; certainly he’s not quite as startling in this regard as is Telemann but Zelenka’s instrumental works are worth more than a mere detour as they contain compact but expressive qualities that both entertain – a primary function of the more utilitarian works written for performance – and also have the power still to move.

Taking them in the order presented in the CD set, which infiltrates the Capriccios amongst the other works, we therefore find that Zelenka, notwithstanding his high position in setting liturgical music, can also spin an affectingly plangent line here, as he does in the Aria of the Second Capriccio. These works, as befits their title, were inherently receptive to almost humorous expansion and Zelenka isn’t afraid to populate them with widely differing stylistic and dance based musics; if one thinks him formally slack or incapable of composing a cohesive suite-like structure one is probably judging him by the wrong standard. These are generously welcoming pieces in which Gavotte, Rondeau and Canarie da Capo, for example, take their place in his scheme of things. In this second Capriccio there is some merciless sounding exposed horn writing and also some amusing dialogue for the instrumentation of horns (Corni da caccia), two oboes, two violins, viola and basso continuo. The sonority is especially appealing and fresh and Zelenka is able to play off sections against each other; he keeps instrumental textures alive through contrast and almost dichotomous abrasion and ones interest is always piqued by those niceties of contrast he so naughtily introduces.

The Hipocondrie whilst attractive is a two movement nine-minute work that does tend toward the discursive whilst the Capriccio for eight instruments (oboe, violin, two violins in ripieno, viola, cello, bassoon and basso continuo) has an extensive series of parts for solo instruments. Thus there is a big, strong part for solo violin in the opening Allegro in which Zelenka constantly elongates and pulls back phrase lengths to impart a sense of strain and expectancy to the music; it seldom settles to a regularized metre. Beautiful bassoon cantilena animates the Largo, with the oboe adding its own very particular plangency and the heavy tread underscoring the music’s deepening textures. But when Zelenka wants to he can certainly indulge an extensive Allegro movement as he does here to conclude a work that flirts with quasi-concerto formalities but manages to retain its independence through a compound of rhythmic liveliness and colouristic imagination. The Third Capriccio was written, as were the others, primarily to entertain – in this case Prince Friedrich August who went to Vienna in 1717-18: a keen huntsman Zelenka obligingly expands the horns’ part and opens the work with a stately and gallant Overture – staccato e forte as marked. Those stentorian horn flourishes in the Allegro are followed by the wandering charm of an Allemande and conclude with a horn dominated Allegro, sturdy, manly, taken here at a solid allegro and slyly taxing the two horn players with some more ferocious demands.

The pattern thus set, most of the remainder of the Capriccios and other pieces conform to Zelenka’s essential plan. Vaunting horns animate the Allegro of No 5 in G Major and a superb series of dynamics, most excellently conveyed by Das Neu-Eröffnete under Jürgen Sonnentheil using original instruments, enliven the concluding Villanella with its fresh air directness to which is added a sense of almost directional "distance." The antiphonal writing of the Simphonie for eight is notable, especially the expanded role for violin and the athletic virtuosity of the oboes – often apt to be forgotten when it comes to acknowledging the demands he makes on his players. Whilst the horn writing is especially tricky Zelenka must have had a most capable brace of oboists at his disposal if the writing here and elsewhere is anything to go by. The entwining sonorities of the Andante in this work are particularly pleasurable and it has something of a vocal resonance to it as well. Affectionate lyricism accompanies the finale and when it comes to the First Capriccio we find even more of the splendidly florid horn parts, fluid elegant writing for the two strings and an ascending line at a well-maintained andante in the opening movement.

Admirable is the delightful gravity of the Ouverture for seven instruments with its stream-flowing Siciliano and delicious sonorities. The Symphonia from Zelenka’s Melodrama is a grand and spacious sonorous one – it prefaced spoken Latin passages in performance, though it wasn’t an oratorio in the conventional sense. The final Capriccio, No 4 in A Major that concludes this CD set makes, if anything, even more demands on the horns but counterbalances this with some attractively lyrical intimacies for oboes in the Arias of the third movement. As elsewhere with Zelenka’s orchestral works an equipoise between shameless virtuosity and lyrical expressivity is realized which produces a whole greater even than the sum of its parts. These apparently unwieldy and loose structures are actually judged to perfection and are teeming with instrumental felicities. The recordings are admirably faithful and the musicians fluent and adept; they are splendid exponents and I recommend their traversal with real enthusiasm. ---Jonathan Woolf,

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Tue, 27 Oct 2009 14:46:44 +0000
Jan Dismas Zelenka – Gesu al Calvario (ZWV 62) [2001] Jan Dismas Zelenka – Gesu al Calvario (ZWV 62) [2001]

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Michelangelo Boccardi - lyricist

1.  Introduction   00:03:19
2.  Recitative: O figlie di Sione (Maria Vergine) 00:01:04
3.  Coro: Misera Madre (Soprano, Alto, Chorus) 00:05:54
4.  Recitative: Fiero dolor (San Giovanni) 00:01:41
5.  Aria: Se in te fosse (San Giovanni) 00:08:17
6.  Recitative: Madre! Figlio! (Gesu, Maria Vergine) 00:02:00
7.  Aria: Ah! se tu costi (Maria Vergine) 00:10:32
8.  Recitative: tanto amor che ti giova (San Giovanni, Gesu, Maria Vergine) 00:03:31
9.  Aria: A che riserbano i cieli (San Giovanni) 00:06:41
10. Recitative: Ed io, Signor (Maria Maddalena, Maria Cleofe) 00:00:50
11. Aria: Si la morte (Maria Cleofe) 00:08:16
12. Recitative: Smanie di dolci affetti (Gesu) 00:00:49
13. Aria: S'una sol lagrima (Gesu) 00:10:47
14. Coro di Giudei: Si crocifigga il Nazareno (Chorus) 00:02:57

1.  Recitative: Spasimi del cor mio (Maria Vergine, San Giovanni,
 Maria Maddalena, Maria Cleofe)   00:02:43
2. Aria: Se ingrato e ribelle (Maria Maddalena) 00:07:17
3. Recitative: Alzate pur il gran trofeo (Gesu, Maria Vergine, Maria Maddalena,
 Maria Cleofe, San Giovanni) 00:03:44
4. Duet: Santo amor, che tanto peni ( Maria Maddalena, Maria Cleofe) 00:08:08
5. Recitative: Vinto da tanto amor (Gesu, Maria Vergine, Maria Maddalena,
 Maria Cleofe, San Giovanni) 00:04:52
6. Aria: Che fiero martire (Maria Vergine) 00:12:57
7. Recitative: Ma di tragica scena (San Giovanni) 00:02:09
8. Chorus: Questo e il monte salutare (Chorus) 00:02:02

Sopran (Maria Vergine): Ingrid Schmithüsen
Sopran (Maria Maria Maddalena): Larissa Malikowa
Kontratenor (Gesù): David Corier
Kontratenor (San Giovanni): Kai Wessel
Alt (Maria Cleofe): Lena Susanne Norin

Rheinische Kantorei
Das Kleine Konzert
Hermann Max – director


Jan Dismas Zelenka is one of the most interesting composers of the baroque era. He developed a style of his own, which brought him the admiration of, among others, Johann Sebastian Bach. His biography doesn't reflect this admiration, though - he never held a major position, and "his" instrument, the double bass, didn't provide him with the best starting point anyway. One of the features of his life is the fact that he was overlooked. Born near Prague he went to Dresden, and became a member of the court orchestra. Together with others he got the opportunity to visit Italy in 1715. Next year he was a pupil of Johann Josef Fux in Vienna. When he went back to Dresden he worked under Heinichen, and for his activities as composer and performer he was awarded the title of deputy Kapellmeister, which didn't increase his financial position, though. When Heinichen died in 1729 Zelenka didn't succeed him. Instead Johann Adolf Hasse was appointed as Heinichen's successor. Although a petition to the king brought him a little additional salary, he didn't have any official duties anymore, and he decided to devote himself to composing. It is not inconceivable that - for today's audiences - this was a blessing in disguise. If he had held an important position he would have been much more limited in his possibilities to compose as he liked. He would have taken the taste of his time much more into account.

For the Dresden court Zelenka composed a number of masses. From the last period of his life date two important oratorios for Holy Week: Gesů al Calvario (1735) and I penitenti al Sepolchro del redentore (1736). They belong to the genre of the passion oratorio, which doesn't tell the story of the suffering and death of Jesus itself, but contains a story about the passion of Jesus. In Zelenka's Gesů al Calvario even that isn't the case: there is hardly any action. As the title suggests it tells Jesus' suffering at the cross and the way the people around him experience it: his mother (Maria Vergine), Maria Maddalena and Maria Cleofe, and his disciple and personal friend St John (San Giovanni). And Jesus himself is playing a role as well, explaining why he had to suffer, and why the guilty are set free and the innocent has to die. Because that's what the story concentrates upon: the women and San Giovanni are resisting the idea of Jesus suffering, although innocent, while the people who want to crucify him, get away with it unpunished. It is put very strongly by St John. After Jesus has told him: "This is the law: the guilty shall be saved, the innocent shall die", he replies: "This law, O Lord, is too hard: the innocent should be saved, and the world should be destroyed." Although the scene around the cross finds its origin in the fantasy of the librettist, Michelangelo Boccardi, this dialogue is accurately describing what the Bible tells us: the disciples resisted Jesus' passion and didn't understand his will to die, and only after Jesus' resurrection they started to understand what the suffering and death of Jesus were all about.

The orchestration of this oratorio is as colourful as one expects from Zelenka. Apart from the strings the orchestra consists of two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons and one chalumeau, an instrument Zelenka had already used in the Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae. The orchestra vividly illustrates the content of arias and choruses, for example in the chorus of the Jews: "Si crocifigga il Nazareno" (the Nazarener should be crucified). Unison passages are used to underline important moments.

The way the characters are portrayed in the libretto is closely reflected in the music. The most emotional part is without any doubt that of Maria Vergine, the mother of Jesus. Maria Maddalena and Maria Cleofe are especially worried about the fact that Jesus has to suffer because of their sins, and in a beautiful duet, in which the chalumeau is used to great effect, they promise never to commit sins again. San Giovanni strongly resists Jesus' suffering for the guilty, even for those who rejected him and wanted to crucify him. That is reflected in his arias, in particular in "A che riserbano": "Why do the heavens hold back their lightnings, why aren't they fired off at the wickedness?" This is an aria like the "rage arias" in baroque operas.

The performance is almost ideal. First of all the choice of singers is excellent. Ingrid Schmithüsen portrays the suffering Maria Vergine very impressively. I only wonder whether she should sustain some notes as long as she does, or should have used the 'exclamatio' more often in stead. The loving and repentent Maria Maddalena and Maria Cleofe are convincingly interpreted by Larissa Malikowa and Lena Susanne Norin respectively, whose voices blend very well in their duet. Interesting - and spot on - is the casting of the two male altos. David Cordier is a great choice for the role of Jesus: the soft edge of his voice exactly matches the character of Jesus: loving, caring and merciful. San Giovanni, on the other hand, is resistent and would like to see the wicked world destroyed. Kai Wessel depicts that character brilliantly. He uses his chest register in the "rage aria" very effectively.

The choir - which has a relatively small part - is good as always, and so is the orchestra. In some arias I would have liked a little more aggressive approach from the orchestra, but on the whole the playing is colourful and lively.

The notes in the booklet are very informative. I cant't understand, though, why it contains only a German, and no English translation of the text. To sum up: this is a highly recommendable recording of a great work, which shows again that Zelenka is not a "minor" composer, but one of the greatest masters of the baroque. ---Johan van Veen,

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Fri, 10 Sep 2010 16:21:05 +0000
Jan Dismas Zelenka – Il Diamante (Serenata ZWV 177) [2009] Jan Dismas Zelenka – Il Diamante (Serenata ZWV 177) [2009]

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CD 1
1 Sinfonia 7:09 (allegro - adagio - minuetto)
2 Recitativo 1:02 (Terra)
3 Aria 7:28 (Terra)
4 Recitativo 0:50 (Giunone)
5 Aria 12:54 (Giunone)
6 Recitativo 1:47 (Terra, Imeneo, Amore)
7 Aria 9:03 (Imeneo)
8 Recitativo 0:36 (Amore)
9 Aria 9:21 (Amore)

CD 2
0 Recitativo 0:51 (Giunone)
11 Aria 9:41 (Giunone)
12 Recitativo 1:19 (Imeneo, Amore)
13 Aria 9:40 (Amore)
14 Recitativo 0:50 (Terra)
15 Aria 6:00 (Terra)
16 Coro 3:11
17 Recitativo 1:45 (Venere)
18 Aria 10:33 (Venere)
19 Coro 3:14

Roberta Mameli - soprano (Giunone)
Marie Fajtova - soprano (Amore)
Gabriela Eibenova - soprano (Venere)
Hana Blazikova - soprano (Terra)
Kai Wessel - alto (Imeneo)

Ensemble Inégal
Prague Baroque Soloists
Adam Viktora – director


Although Zelenka is being slowly rediscovered, those who do have some familiarity with his music will for the most part see him as exclusively a sacred music composer. He did after all lose out in 1733 to Hasse for the post of Kapellmeister to the Dresden court, instead being appointed in 1735 to the lesser post of church composer (and which he subsequently lost to JSB the next year) specifically in charge of sacred music.

However for the occasion of the marriage of Prince Georg Ignatius Lubomirski to Baroness Joanna Stein in 1737, Zelenka was called upon to compose a serenata for the evening's entertainment. Normally this commission would have gone to Hasse, but he was apparently busy working on his opera "Senocrita". This gave Zelenka the opportunity to demonstrate his mastery of the Italianate secular vocal-instrumental form, one of only two surviving substantial vocal-instrumental secular pieces along with "Melodrama De Sancto Wenceslao".

The plot: The Earth presents a spectacular diamond to the goddess Juno, who decides, in her capacity as goddess of marriage, to use the gem as a gift for the marriage of Georg and Joanna, and summons Hymen, patron of marriage, to perform the task. Cupid brings the bridegroom, Juno bids Hymen to hand over the jewel to Georg to give to his betrothed, and Cupid and Hymen sing of the beauty of both the stone and the bride, and the unity of Germany and Poland brought about by the marriage. Earth asks Juno to bless the couple with fertility, whereupon the chorus invites all to celebrate the marriage.

And then, a surprise. A new character appears - Venus, who in her recitative and aria asks "Am I forgotten where love is being celebrated? Only I can make your happiness perfect", after which the chorus is repeated. The booklet speculates that the work originally ended with the first chorus and Venus is a late addition. Furthermore it hypothesises that, perhaps plausible as Hasse in fact conducted the performance of the work, his wife and superstar mezzo-soprano Faustina Bordoni sang the part of Venus and that this extra part was created to accommodate her.

With this work Zelenka proves himself as second to none in his mastery of the genre, and we should be truly thankful that this has survived - it almost beggars belief that these kind of works were created for a one-off performance, thence to usually be forgotten. There are eight gorgeous and very substantial arias here sung by a talented bunch of vocalists - soloists Roberta Mameli, Marie Fajtova, Gabriela Eibenova, Hana Blazikova, Kai Wessel, and the chorus of the Prague Baroque Soloists, as well as Zelenka's stirring and uplifting orchestration performed by Ensemble Inegal and directed by Adam Viktora. This has been getting almost daily spins (or whatever the equivalent terminology might be on an iPod) since purchase and I don't think there will be any chance that I will tire of this - it really is a dazzling and remarkable work, in a wonderful recording. ---E. L. Wisty,

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Sun, 29 Aug 2010 21:35:18 +0000
Jan Dismas Zelenka – Sonatas (2012) Jan Dismas Zelenka – Sonatas (2012)

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Sonata in F major ZWV181/5
1	[Allegro]  [6'51]
2	[Adagio]  [3'06]
3	Allegro  [6'17]

Sonata in B flat major ZWV181/3
4	Adagio  [3'27]
5	Allegro  [4'02]
6	Largo  [2'55]
7	Tempo giusto; Allegro  [4'47]

Sonata in C minor ZWV181/6
8	[Andante]  [3'03]
9	[Allegro]  [4'07]
10	Adagio  [2'39]
11	[Allegro]  [5'03]

Simphonie à 8 concertanti in A minor ZWV189
12	Andante  [2'58]

Monica Huggett (violin)
Ensemble Marsyas


These sonatas represent some of the most spectacularly challenging music ever written for wind instruments in terms of their utopian demands on the technique of the players, their musical integrity and their breathtaking scale. Members from the Edinburgh-based chamber group were awarded both first prize and the audience prize at the 2007 Brugge International Competition for this repertoire and their skill is evident on this, their debut recording.


Czech Baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka was a near contemporary of Bach, who admired him (and not too many other composers). The pieces on this album, which unite intense technical and contrapuntal virtuosity with lightness of spirit, make it easy to see why. They were roughly contemporaneous with Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and may have been written for similar purposes (as a kind of audition). These pieces are what were called quadri or quadro sonate ("quartet sonatas," to be distinguished from the earlier sonata a quattro). They are for two oboes, bassoon, and continuo, or in one case oboe, violin, bassoon, and continuo. The oboe and bassoon are not easy instruments to play; the Baroque oboe and bassoon are harder still; and to play difficult lines in intricate ensemble work on these instruments is nothing short of miraculous. Yet that is what happens in this reading of three of the sonatas plus an excerpt from one larger work that better exemplifies Zelenka's tendency toward the bizarre. The three sonatas, for all their difficulty, are graceful pieces, and Scotland's Ensemble Marsyas carries them off with enviable smoothness and even quietness. It's an extraordinary performance, and the sweet pastoral sounds of Peter Whelan's Baroque bassoon will be worth the price of admission by themselves for many listeners. The Linn label contributes strongly as well with fine engineering, scaled to the intimate conception of the music but not sitting right on top of the players and picking up the clicking of keys and the like. There are a few other recordings of these pieces (Heinz Holliger popularized them), but this is an excellent choice for first exposure to the still-underrated Zelenka as well as for those already hooked. ---James Manheim, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Tue, 27 Oct 2009 14:48:05 +0000
Zelenka - Missa Omnium Sanctorum ZWV 21 (1995) Zelenka - Missa Omnium Sanctorum ZWV 21 (1995)

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01. Kyrie eleison I
02. Kyrie eleison II
03. Christe eleison
04. Gloria in excelsis Deo
05. Qui tollis peccata mundi
06. Quoniam tu solus Sanctus I
07. Quoniam tu solus Sanctus II
08. Cum Sancto Spiritu I
09. Cum Sancto Spiritu II		play
10. Credo
11. Sanctus					play
12. Benedictus
13. Osanna
14. Agnus Dei
15. Dona nobis pacem

Soprano: Mechthild Bach
Contratenor: Daniel Taylor
Tenor: Markus Brutscher
Bajo: Gottholt Schwarz
Coro: Kammerchor Stuttgart
Orquesta: Barockorchester Stuttgart
Director: Frieder Bernius

Evangelische Kirche Reutlingen-Gönningen 14 - 16 may 1995


In the years before he died Zelenka set about composing a cycle of half a dozen masses of which this, the Missa Omnium Sanctorum ZWV 21 is the last. It's a grand scale affair with movements for chorus and instruments and some very fine solo arias. Sadly neither this nor his equally fine Missa Dei Patris were ever performed during Zelenka's lifetime as the new regime at the Dresden court where he had been fobbed off with the post chapel composer had decreed that Masses may not last longer than 45 minutes. Their loss is our gain – it's a fine piece of music on a magnificent scale and stuffed to the gills with musical interest. ---markfromireland,

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Sun, 01 May 2011 16:06:07 +0000
Zelenka - Missa Paschalis - Litaniae Omnium Sanctorum (2013) Zelenka - Missa Paschalis - Litaniae Omnium Sanctorum (2013)

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Missa Paschalis ZWV 7
1. Kyrie eleison I 2:52
2. Christe eleison 2:31
3. Kyrie eleison II 1:19
4. Gloria in excelsis Deo 2:27
5. Domine 250
6. Qui tollis peccata mundi 2:13
7. Quoniam tu solus Sanktus 2:00
8. Cum sancto Spiritu 0:29
9. Amen 1:53
10. Credo in unum Deum 1:25
11. Et incarnatus est 1:22
12. Crucifixus 1:27
13. Et resurrexit 1:38
14. Amen 1:58
15. Sanctus 1:09
16. Benedictus 5:31
17. Osanna in enexelsis 0:25
Agnus Dei
18. Agnus Dei 2:14
19. Dona nobis pacem 1:23

Litaniae Omnium Sanctorum ZWV 53 (1735)
20. Kyrie eleison 3:38
21. Pater de coelis 6:24
22. Sancte Petre 2:51
23. Propitius esto 1:58
24. Ab ira tua 3:39
25. Peccatores 1:53
26. Ut nos ad veram 6:50
27. Agnus Dei 3:43

Cyril Auvity tenor (7,11,24,25), 
Marian Krejcik bass (7,25,26), 
Gabriela Eibenova soprano (5,11,16,21,26), 
Terry Wey alto (2,7,11,21,24,25)

Ensemble Inegal
Prague Baroque Soloists
Adam Viktora – conductor


This recording of Missa Paschalis and Litaniae Omnium Sanctorum contributes to the remarkable renaissance over the past decades of the music of Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745), the Bohemian musician who came to Dresden to serve at the courts of Saxon Electors and Kings of Poland: August II and, from 1733, August III. It was the devout Habsburg wife of August III, however, who appears to have wielded the great influence upon the quality of music composed and performed in Dresden's royal Catholic court church. Throughout her life in Dresden, Maria Josepha took an active interest in this aspect of worship, requesting the elevation of certain feasts through the composition and performance of sacred music. For exequies, in particular, this queen specifically requested Zelenka to take charge of the music on many occasions. When the castrati of Dresden's renowned Hofkapelle baulked at singing for certain services of the church, it was she who resolved the impasse. For example, when they claimed that they were not obliged to sing the requiem mass on 3 November 1733 (the anniversary of the dead members of the Society of Jesus: Anniversarium omnium in Societate Defunctorum) the Diarium Missionis Societatis Jesu Dresda kept by the Dresden Jesuits who staffed the royal chapel reported that representation was made to the queen, who immediately ordered the requiem mass to be sung by these singers, and was herself present in the chapel.

These two large-scale works by Zelenka were composed at key moments of his life. Missa Paschalis (ZWV 7) comes from the year 1726 when he appears to have begun to aspire to a position at the Dresden court as a composer rather than one of performer: Litaniae Omnium Sanctorum (ZWV 53) was almost certainly written in 1735 soon after this ambition had been realised. Moreover, these two works are among the many sources that go a long way towards negating the popular impression that Zelenka's music was unappreciated during his lifetime and never heard after his death. On the contrary, sources kept outside Dresden of both Missa Paschalis and Litaniae Omnium Sanctorum reveal that Zelenka's music lived on into the nineteenth century - well after his death. ---

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:57:56 +0000
Zelenka - Prague 1723 (2000) Zelenka - Prague 1723 (2000)

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Overture à 7 concertanti in F major, ZWV 188
1. (Grave) - Allegro – (Grave)
2. Aria
3. Menuetto I & IIO
4. (Siciliano)
5. Folia

Hipocondrie à 7 concertanti in A major, ZWV 187
6. (Lentement) – Alllegro – Lentement

Concerto a 8 in G major, ZWV 186
7. (Allegro)
8. Largo cantabile
9. Allegro

Sinfonia in A major, ZWV 189
10. Allegro
11. Andante
12. Capriccio

Tempo di gavotte
13. Aria da capriccio

Andante – Allegro - Andante – Allegro
14. (Menuetto I & II)

Il Fondamento (Ensemble)
Paul Dombrecht - conductor


Despite being elevated by some to near-cult status, Jan Dismas Zelenka remains an enigmatic figure. Little more than the bare outlines are known of a career marked by the ultimate disappointment of being passed over for the post of Kapellmeister in Dresden in favor of Johann Hasse, 20 years his junior. Of his personality we know next to nothing, leaving us puzzled by a man whose music can be variously termed idiosyncratic, highly individual, or just plain eccentric according to taste. Was Zelenka therefore a great original genius of the High Baroque, plowing his own lonely furrow, or simply a composer of bizarre curiosities? Paul Dombrecht has recently been involved with a selection of both the sacred and secular works of Zelenka, so he seemed a good man to approach for an opinion. "He is certainly a very individual composer," Dombrecht told me, "and difficult to categorize or place within any particular school. In Dresden he worked alongside people like Heinichen, Pisendel, and later Hasse, and he has a much more personal style than any of them. It could be that for this reason he was not really successful." "Yes, I've often wondered to what extent his unusual style played a part in the decision to appoint Hasse Kapellmeister in Dresden after the death of Heinichen. After all, he had been for some years." "It could be that, or it might have been his personality. We just don't know."

No better example of the originality of Zelenka's style could be found than the Miserere in C Minor recorded by Dombrecht, a work that, as he points out, consists of an amalgam of several styles. "In the Miserere Zelenka is mixing styles in quite strange and sudden ways. You have this very dramatic opening, then a fugal section in which he gets through a long section of text very quickly, often overlapping it. The next section [the first part of the Gloria, a florid soprano solo] is again in a completely different style. It could be taken from an opera." Indeed it could, the style that springs to mind being that of Hasse, the man who blocked Zelenka's progress in Dresden. That fugal section strikes me, like some of Zelenka's other contrapuntal sections, to be the kind of passage that arouses doubts about Zelenka, writing in which the odd melodic angularity seems awkward. I asked Dombrecht if he agreed. "Yes, that's one of the reasons why he is not always appreciated. It's the same with the trio sonatas—they look very complex, and there are those who say the music is not well constructed." Yet there are, of course, others to whom the composer's compelling originality overrides such doubts, and it is always worth recalling that C. P. E. Bach claimed that his father held Zelenka's music in high esteem. For evidence that the Bohemian was a highly accomplished contrapuntist, one need turn no further than the "Tu suscipe" section of the C-Minor Requiem, an a cappella setting in the stile antico. As Dombrecht pointed out, such accomplishment doubtless dates from the period Zelenka spent in Vienna as a pupil of the great contrapuntist J. J. Fux, this, remarkably, when the former was already in his mid-thirties. "For me," Dombrecht concluded, "it is the obvious sincerity of the manner in which Zelenka uses such devices that makes him so interesting."

The seven works recorded by Dombrecht provide a representative cross-section of Zelenka's sacred and orchestral works spanning a period from 1723 to 1738. The earliest are the four orchestral works, all of which are dated 1723, the year in which Zelenka traveled to Prague with a group of Dresden musicians for the coronation of Charles VI. In addition to ceremonial vocal works by Zelenka himself and Fux, it is known that the former composed six orchestral works that no doubt played their part in the festivities. The four chosen by Dombrecht graphically illustrate not only Zelenka's originality but the diversity of style to be found throughout the composer's works. The Overture in F is cast in suite form, with an opening French overture full of grandeur, the mixture of dotted chordal writing interposed with a melodic motif that characteristically refuses to go in quite the expected direction. The Aria that follows is equally notable, its graceful surface disconcertingly disrupted by minor inflections and surprising harmonic progressions. Here, as in some of the other dance movements, there are moments that suggest the composer has taken a distorting mirror to a world of the courtly and elegant.

The G-Major Concerto inhabits another world, that of the concerto con molti stromenti, imported from Venice via Vivaldi, and enthusiastically adopted by Zelenka's Dresden colleagues, Heinichen and Pisendel. Yet if the strong opening unison reminds us of the Venetian master, the folklike melody that follows is archetypal Zelenka, as is the plaintive oboe and bassoon dialog that forms the heart of the succeeding Largo cantabile. The oddly named Hipocondrie is a single-movement work, a broad, melodic Lentement framing a central Allegro much concerned with antiphonal imitative effects and contrasts of instrumental color. The considerably truncated return of the slow opening brings yet another Zelenka surprise, the unexpected turn to the minor, with stabbing bass chords bringing the work to a somber close. In some ways the Simphonie is the most conventional work here, but there is nothing ordinary about the burst of exuberant abandon with which the composer launches into the opening Allegro. In this, arguably the most appealing of these orchestral works, the succeeding movements introduce much felicitous concertante writing, often for pairs of instruments. Especially memorable is the Andante's conversation between violin and oboe conducted over a bubbling bassoon figuration. Il Fondamento's performances of all these works are impeccable, the many solo concertino passage played with stylish confidence and unfailing technical expertise, while Dombrecht captures the spirit of Zelenka impressively, allowing full rein to the phrasing of his often oddly shaped melodies, and directing the more boisterous movements with energetic verve.

The disc of sacred music is equally outstanding, the instrumental forces of II Fondamento here complemented by a small (16 voices) but accomplished, eagerly responsive chorus, and a fine lineup of soloists among whom the vastly experienced and ever-dependable Peter Kooij particularly stands out. The earliest of these works is the De profundis, composed as a commemorative work around 1724. The work reflects not only the solemnity of the occasion but also the opening words of the Psalm (130): "Out of the deep. . . ." A dark-hued orchestral introduction leads to a setting of the opening lines for three solo basses, music of painful beauty set over an inexorable walking bass. The gravity of the music is further underlined by the three trombones that punctuate the chorus's succeeding "Si iniquitates," while the central section is given to the tenor and alto soloists, the expansive melismatic lines counterpoised by an obbligato oboe. After Zelenka was appointed court chapel conductor in 1732 his output of church compositions increased, one of the first results being the C-Minor Requiem, believed to date from that year. This too was composed for a commemoration, an annual ritual held in Dresden in memory of the death of Emperor Joseph I. Rather surprisingly for a work that had to be fitted into a complete framework lasting no more than an hour, Zelenka set the whole of the Requiem text. With the exception of the "Liber scriptus" (a lovely setting for solo tenor and bass) and the Benedictus, each of the 22 sections is very short, even further concision being achieved by telescoping the text in the long Sequence. Despite some striking moments, the effect of a succession of movements lasting an average of barely two minutes is less than totally satisfactory. But as ever with Zelenka there is some striking orchestration, not least for the chalumeau, which appears in several sections of the Sequence.

Composed in 1738, the Miserere in C Minor is the latest and in some ways most impressive of these works, despite the caveat mentioned in the introduction to this review. The pounding bass introduction over which dissonance is piled on dissonance exerts an extraordinarily powerful impression on the listener, the kind of writing that immediately grabs the attention and makes one think: Yes, this is the work of a true original who has something startling and dramatic to say. While they cannot solve the Zelenka enigma, hearing these two discs in conjunction does provide an unusual opportunity to move just that little closer to this hugely talented, mysterious figure. Sadly, the presentation fails match the outstanding quality of the performances and engineering, the note accompanying the disc of sacred works being inadequate and confused, while both sets of notes have been poorly proofread. ---Brian Robins, Fanfare,

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:51:50 +0000
Zelenka - Requiem in D minor & Miserere in C minor (1995) Zelenka - Requiem in D minor & Miserere in C minor (1995)

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1. Requiem In d, ZWV 48: Introitus-Kyrie
2. Requiem In d, ZWV 48: Sequentia-Dies irae
3. Requiem In d, ZWV 48: Offertorium
4. Requiem In d, ZWV 48: Sanctus
5. Requiem In d, ZWV 48: Benedictus - Ens Baroque 1994/Czech Chamber Choir/Valek
6. Requiem In d, ZWV 48: Agnus Dei
7. Requiem In d, ZWV 48: Communio-Lux aeterna - Ens Baroque 1994/Czech Chamber Choir/Valek

8. Miserere In c, Psalm 50, ZWV 57 - Anna Hlavenkova

Czech Chamber Chorus
Ensemble Baroque 1994
Roman Valek – conductor


The Requiem, to quote the liner notes, was commissioned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of Austrian Emperor Joseph I by his daugher Maria Josepha. Zelenka used a very somber and solemn tone throughout, structuring the work upon a Mass. Composed of seven different fugues bound together by the theme of mourning, it is typical early Zelenka; excellent. The oboe work is fantasic, solemn and appropriate. There is even a brief solo appearance by Violons, Zelenka's personal instrument. If you liked his Trio Sonatas you will enjoy this piece.

A most poignant note about the Requiem. The original manuscript was thought lost in the Dresden Firebombings. According to the liner notes, a copy was found in Prague and was corrected by scores found in archives located in Slovakia. The work was premered again in 1988. The Requiem is a miracle piece which reappeared in a time when it would be given its due. The Miserere is a later work and sounds operatic in a more modern sense. It more closely resembles the late masses than the early works such as the Trio Sonatas. As such it is also excellent. Both pieces were realized by Baroque Ensemble 1994. I hope that they have done other works which I can seek out and enjoy. I recommend this work without reservation. ---GeneH,

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Wed, 20 Apr 2011 18:45:50 +0000
Zelenka – Missa Dei Filii Litaniae Lauretanae (Bernius) [1990] Zelenka – Missa Dei Filii Litaniae Lauretanae (Bernius) [1990]

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1. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: I. Kyrie: Kyrie eleison 2:34
2. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: II. Kyrie: Christe eleison 5:51
3. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: III. Kyrie: Kyrie eleison 2:31
4. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: IV. Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo 10:37
5. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: V. Gloria: Qui tollis peccata mundi 10:52
6. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: VI. Gloria: Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris 2:01 play
7. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: VII. Gloria: Quoniam tu solus Sanctus I 1:55
8. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: VIII. Gloria: Quoniam tu solus Sanctus II 5:54
9. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: IX. Gloria: Cum Sancto Spiritu I 0:25
10. Missa Dei Filii, ZWV 20: X. Gloria: Cum Sancto Spiritu II 7:55
11. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: I. Kyrie eleison 5:48
12. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: II. Pater de coelis 5:01
13. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: III. Mater divinae gratiae 3:09 play
14. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: IV. Virgo prudentissima I 0:17
15. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: V. Virgo prudentissima II 2:00
16. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: VI. Salus infirmorum 4:49
17. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: VII. Regina Angelorum 3:16
18. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: VIII. Agnus Dei I 1:34
19. Litaniae Lauretanae "Salus infirmorum", ZWV 152: IX. Agnus Dei II 5:47

Kammerchor Stuttgart, Nancy Argenta, Christoph Prégardien, Gordon Jones
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
Frieder Bernius - conductor


Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679 - 1745) ~ another splendid Bohemian baroque composer ~ was never much recognised during his lifetime professionally, serving as a court musician in Dresden for most of his career. He travelled little, and only to study or participate in music research, and played a rather obscure instrument ~ the double bass ~ in the Court Orchestra. As for his training, he may have been educated by the Jesuits in Prague. We do know that in 1717 Zelenka studied with Fux in Vienna, during which time he also taught counterpoint to Quantz; that same year he accompanied the Elector to Italy where he studied with Lotti.

Zelenka was awarded a title created especially for him by the Royal Court at Dresden, that of 'Court Composer of Church Music'; under this title he composed numerous sacred works for the Dresden Catholic Church. At that time Saxony was predominantly Lutheran and the staunchly Lutheran Bach had already been awarded with the title of 'Royal Court Composer', so Zelenka's title was little more than a political-social nod to those not of Martin Luther's persuasion.

Zelenka conducted the Court Orchestra for five seasons and assisted the Kapellmeister in his duties but never received the position after his demise. This oversight disappointed and disillusioned Zelenka, who went to his death feeling he'd not received a proper due for his achievements which indeed were many and numerous. In addition to several secular instrumental compositions (none of his keyboard works are known to survive), he penned some 30 masses, plus psalms and three oratorios with biblical subjects, totaling in all around 150 sacred works.

Certainly one might agree that Zelenka deserves his due if one were to judge solely by this particularly splendid disc of his sacred choral works. Zelenka, as Biber (another Bohemian), pushed the musical envelope ~ expect the unexpected. His music is crammed with catchy counterpoint and sparkling syncopation, it's full of creative, compelling harmony and demanding instrumentation. Zelenka was a stickler for dynamics and much fond of the crescendo. Perhaps one might dub these 'Zelenka Crescendos' as he tended to describe each progression in intensity, to the point where 'piano', 'forte' and 'piu forte' might be inscribed beneath one single instrumental note.

Both the Mass and the Litaniae are impressive works, intensely festive, glittering with runs and vocal fireworks. Surprisingly contemporary in sound, as opined one critic, 'to the uninitiated it is difficult to place Zelenka's place in time'. J.S. Bach greatly admired Zelenka, and Zelenka's contemporaries referred to him as a 'dreamily pious' man. This rather ambiguous description suits Zelenka to perfection, as there remains a bit of a mystery surrounding the details of his life. He may have been in ill-health, as one title of his works attests : 'Hypochonria' which is scored for Zelenka's pet instrument, the oboe. It's a devillish work, almost unplayable for the average oboe and oboist, which further underscores Zelenka's intensly creative attitude toward his compositions. It is widely accepted that no picture of Zelenka is believed to exist, so thus in addition to a poor constitution it is speculated he may have suffered from some physical deformity which held him back socially, artistically, and professionally, and would certainly explain his aversion to having his portrait done.

Whatever the actuality of Zelenka's life, here is one reality that I can happily vouch for ~ this CD is a jewel, and the Canadian original-instruments ensemble 'Tafelmusik' and the soloists generally superb. The only weak link to the group, and this is purely subjective opinion, was the choice of Michael Chance as alto. I would have preferred a fuller, richer female voice as accompaniment to Argenta's pure, fluid, solid soprano as opposed to a countertenor ~ which is, incidentally, the more historically correct. Introduce yourself to Zelenka through this disc and see where it leads you. Here is a most underrated and underappreciated composer, well worth exposure and exploration and a far wider audience. ---Polkadotty


If Handel and Bach are the first two members of the Baroque Musical Trinity, then Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) is the third. For this recording transported me to the celestial realm and kept me there for some 70 minutes. From its opening 'Kyrie' I was 'hooked'. Zelenka's entire repertoire only runs to some 150 compositions and consists of a small number of instrumental selections, and a larger group of sacred vocal selections such as masses and requiems, psalms, magnificats, hymns and a few secular vocal works. The works on this disc are melodious, harmonically satisfying and very creative throughout both in the instrumental accompaniment and solos. His repeated use of ascending and descending scale passages is unique and pleasing to the ear as is his harmonic progressions.

The 'Missa Dei Fili'ZWV20 is a mass in honor of the Son of God. As was usual in the first half of the eighteenth century, Zelenka's masses and litanies are so-called 'number works' in which the five parts of the ordinary of the mass (Kyrie-Gloria-Credo-Sanctus/Benedictus-Agnus Dei)are subdivded into smaller, musically independent single movements. The 'Litaniae Lauretanae' ZWV152 is subtitled: 'Salus Infirmorum'. It's hard to believe that it took this long for Zelenka's music to surface, but I hope that more recordings of it are on the way. All the music herein, as a whole, demands excellent technical ability and brilliant virtuosity from all the singers and instrumentalists involved. Just one example of this: "Quoniam tu solus sanctus II" as sung by Michael Chance in the 'Gloria' requires great vocal flexibility and tremendous vocal control, as you will hear for yourself if you purchase the recording.

The overall performance of this 1989 recording is impressive because the excitement never ceases at any time during the recording: Nancy Argento (soprano) seems to be more involved emotionally than usual; Michael Chance (countertenor) is perfection exhibiting flawless diction, great flexibility and enchancting tone quality; Christopher Pregarden(tenor) has a warm and resonant sound; and Gordon Jones (bass)sings with ease and lightness. The Kammerchor Stuttgart is very fine with a buoyant and 'yummy'sound. Tafelmusic: great as usual 'Bravo' Jean Lamon. And all is brought together by that very excellent conductor Frieder Bernius! ---George Peabody ‘Ariel’

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]]> (bluesever) Zelenka Jan Dismas Sat, 23 Apr 2011 19:40:38 +0000