25 Aug 2013

Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745)

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 25 August 2013

Given the task of identifying the greatest composers of the baroque era, we would have no hesitation in naming Bach and Handel. After them … possibly Domenico Scarlatti, Telemann, François Couperin, Rameau … not many would name Zelenka.

John Wells, in his introduction, says, “On an initial hearing, there is not much to distinguish between his style and that of many other Baroque composers.  Having said that, it’s the quality of the music that engages us – it’s often right up there with the best works of more famous composers. 


Lounovice Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

On more careful listening, you can detect a quirkiness – unexpected harmonic shifts, unusual rhythms and sudden changes in mood. These personal touches, according to no less an authority than Stanley Sadie, do not make the music better or worse, just different. What sustains our interest is the skill of the writing.”

Zelenka was born in Lounovice, a village in the Czech Republic (pictured) and spent his working life in Dresden.

Music Details:

ZELENKA: Missa Nativitatis Domini in D, ZWV 8 – Musica Florea/Štrynci (Supraphon)
ZELENKA: Capriccio No 5 in G for two corni da caccia etc – Ludwig Güttler (horn), Virtuosi Saxoniae (Berlin Classics)
ZELENKA: Capriccio No 2 in G for two corni da caccia etc, ZWV 183 – Das Neu-Eröffnete Orchestre/Sonnentheil (CPO)
ZELENKA: Ouverture a 7 concertanti in F – Collegium 1704 (Supraphon)
ZELENKA: Miserere in C minor, ZWV 57 – Fiori Musicali (Metronome)
ZELENKA: Lectiones, from Officium Defunctorum, ZWV 47 (3 excerpts) – The King’s Consort/King (Hyperion)
ZELENKA: Simphonie a 8 concertanti in A – Collegium 1704 (Supraphon)
ZELENKA: Requiem in C minor, ZWV 45 – Fiori Musicali (Metronome)
ZELENKA: Magnificat in C, ZWV 107 – Musica Florea/ Štrynci (Supraphon)
ZELENKA: Litaniae de Venerabili Sacramento, ZWV 147 – The King’s Consort/King (Hyperion)
ZELENKA: Sonata No 2 in G minor for two oboes and bassoon – Paul Dombrecht, Marcel Ponseele (ob), Danny Bond (bsn) (Accent)
ZELENKA: Capriccio No 3 in F, ZWV 184 – Das Neu-Eröffnete Orchestre/Sonnentheil (CPO)
ZELENKA: Missa dei filii, ZWV 20 – Stuttgart Chamber Choir, Tafelmusik Baroque Orch/Bernius (DHM)
ZELENKA: Regina Angelorum, from Litaniae lauretanae, ZWV 152 – Christoph Prégardien (ten), Tafelmusik Baroque Orch/Bernius (DHM)
ZELENKA: Laudate Pueri – Ruth Ziesak (sop), Reinhold Friedrich (tpt), Berliner Barock Compagney (Phoenix Edition)
ZELENKA: Missa Nativitatis Domini in D, ZWV 8 – Musica Florea/Štrynci (Supraphon)

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