Sunday, January 17, 2016

Zelenka Orchestra Works and Trio Sonatas Camerata Bern Archiv 5CD




Zelenka: Orchestral Works, Trio Sonatas / Camerata Bern

Release Date: 04/08/2003 
Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg) Catalog #: 469 842 Spars Code: ADD 
Composer: Jan Dismas Zelenka 
Performer: Christiane Jaccottet, Heinz Holliger, Maurice Bourgue, Saschko Gawriloff, ... 
Conductor: Alexander van Wijnkoop 
Orchestra/Ensemble: Camerata Bern 
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 29 Mins. 

Works on This Recording
1. Capricci (5) by Jan Dismas Zelenka 
Conductor: Alexander van Wijnkoop 
Orchestra/Ensemble: Camerata Bern 
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1717-1729; Bohemia 
2. Concerto a 8 in G major, ZWV 186 by Jan Dismas Zelenka 
Conductor: Alexander van Wijnkoop 
Orchestra/Ensemble: Camerata Bern 
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1723; Bohemia 
3. Symphonie a 8 by Jan Dismas Zelenka 
Conductor: Alexander van Wijnkoop 
Orchestra/Ensemble: Camerata Bern 
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Prague, Czech Republ 
4. Hipocondrie à 7 concertanti in A major, ZWV 187 by Jan Dismas Zelenka 
Conductor: Alexander van Wijnkoop 
Orchestra/Ensemble: Camerata Bern 
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Bohemia 
5. Overture à 7 concertanti in F major, ZWV 188 by Jan Dismas Zelenka 
Conductor: Alexander van Wijnkoop 
Orchestra/Ensemble: Camerata Bern 
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Bohemia 
6. Trio Sonatas (6) for 2 Oboes, Bassoon and Basso Continuo, ZWV 181 by Jan Dismas Zelenka 
Performer: Christiane Jaccottet (Harpsichord), Heinz Holliger (Oboe), Maurice Bourgue (Oboe), 
Saschko Gawriloff (Violin), Klaus Thunemann (Bassoon), Lucio Buccarella (Double Bass) 
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1722; Vienna, Austria 

Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although the music of Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679–1745) has been known to musicologists for years, it was only during the last quarter of the 20th century that his compositions began to reach the broader public. There were earlier but isolated recordings of Zelenka's music, notably an LP of orchestral works by Newell Jenkins and his Clarion Concerts musicians, but it was Dr. Andreas Holschneider and his colleagues at the Archiv division of Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft who were responsible for the musical exhumation of Zelenka's music and therefore the solidification of his reputation by way of the release of his chamber and orchestral works in the late 1970s. 

Zelenka was a Bohemian who spent most of his career attached to the Dresden court of Augusts II, Prince Elector of Saxony. The Prince's musical establishment was one of the most respected and envied in Europe. In addition to including a number of exceptionally gifted wind players, the Kapelle included violinist and Konzertmeister Johann Georg Piedensel, lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss, oboist François le Riche, and Zelenka who—in addition to composing­—also played the bass violin or violone. Also at the Prince's disposal were the talents of a number of excellent composers, including Johann David Heinichen and Johann Adolf Hasse. 

Many compositions of the time—and these orchestral works of Zelenka composed for the Dresden ensemble were no exception—owed less to the will of their creator and more to the circumstances or dictates surrounding their birth, i.e., they were occasional works written for use by a specific patron on a given occasion, and this is true of the few orchestral works penned by Zelenka. When compared to the amount of music generated by many of his contemporaries, Zelenka's output is small, consisting of only the material found on these three CDs. 

None of the standard nomenclature of the time seems to fit Zelenka's capriccios. They are neither concerti grossi à la Corelli nor solo concertos in the manner of Vivaldi. Zelenka's capriccios follow no set structure; instead they utilize a combination of so-called free movements and dances. The composer and musical lexicographer Johann Mattheson wrote that the capriccios displayed “so little restraint and order that they can scarcely be described by any other general name than that signifying free ideas . . . the more curious and extraordinary they are, the more appropriate their name.” The title implies a whim or a composition written according to one's mood or inclination, underscoring Mattheson's quote as well as the fact that there was no firm category for works of this nature. 

Zelenka's Ouverture à 7 concertanti and Concerto à 8 concertanti are closer to the established norms of the era with the former evincing French influence and the latter falling in line with the three-movement structure of the Italian concerto. But when it comes to the Sinfonia à 8 concertanti and the Hipocondrie , we again find ourselves in a structural netherworld. The latter is especially odd, possessing as it does an enigmatic title whose meaning is long lost, and a rhythmic underpinning that appears to mimic the habanera! The numbers in the titles are a reference to the overall number of parts employed and not to “concertante” solo parts. 

In addition to the structural oddities mentioned, one finds some interesting and unusual melodic features that were also uncommon during the Baroque era. Generally, music was composed in four- or eight-measure phrase lengths, but Zelenka occasionally sets this rule aside and goes his own way. There are also abrupt and unexpected changes of key, the most glaring coming in the recapitulation of the opening movement of the Ouverture à 7 concertanti, where the orchestra migrates from the dominant to the expected home key, but by way of a side trip to a tonality that is so remote the effect is striking, and the final resolution therefore is far more satisfying than it would have otherwise been. 

The orchestral forces for these works are basic: oboes, bassoon, strings, and continuo. The caprices augment these basic elements with two horns, whose parts are certainly among the most demanding and daunting in the entire Baroque repertoire. In the First Capriccio, the melodic line ascends to the stratosphere (i.e., g'), something attempted by no other composer before Richard Strauss. Other exceptionally difficult passages can be found in the Allegro of Capriccio No. 3 and opening movement (no tempo indication provided) of Capriccio No. 4. 

Originally released on vinyl in 1978, these modern-instrument recordings came along while the period-instrument movement was still getting its feet on the ground. The LPs drew much attention for their innovative repertoire and were quickly recognized as bringing to the fore one of the more deserving of the composers who had previously languished in the shadows. In the intervening years, more of Zelenka's music has been placed under the microscope and much of it has made its way to the recording studio. There have been other recordings of the orchestral works as well, ranging from a complete period-instrument set on cpo to individual works on various labels, but regardless of the choice of modern or period instruments, this Archiv set is still the best available. Violinist Thomas Füri and the Camerata Bern perform with such pristine clarity, lightness, and precision that one cannot help but appreciate their excellent grasp of Zelenka's scores. The briskly paced performances crackle with enthusiasm and an unbridled dedication to the repertoire is apparent throughout. 

For the lover of the Baroque who still remains unacquainted with Zelenka's music, this well-annotated three-CD set offers a two-and three-quarter hour musical celebration of one of the Baroque era's most undervalued composers. The analog sound, though dated and somewhat top heavy and glassy, is wholly acceptable and must be taken in the context of the time. As it approaches its 30th birthday, this set still reigns supreme. 
-- FANFARE: Michael Carter 

Review by James Manheim [-]
Nothing except some small print in the packaging of this five-disc set of chamber music by Jan Dismas Zelenka tells you that you're getting recordings made in 1972 and 1977 and originally issued on the Archiv label, just a few years after Zelenka's music was first rediscovered and edited. The sound, especially in the earlier group, has all the limitations of the way in which Baroque music was recorded in those days, substituting a metallic sheen that was supposed to pass as sweetness for a detailed rendering of what the instruments were doing. The performances, on modern instruments, were made at a time when historical instruments were just beginning to be heard beyond academic specialist circles. When the booklet boasts that Zelenka's horn parts are difficult even on a modern horn, you can be pretty sure that the point is being missed. All this said, these readings, by a variety of well-known 1970s virtuosi led by oboist Heinz Holliger and hornist Barry Tuckwell mixed with a few historically oriented players, were not a bad start when it came to approaching a major and totally unfamiliar composer. The trio sonatas on the last two discs fare best as the unusual continuo group of bassoon, double bass, and harpsichord keeps things moving and avoids the plinking accompaniment that plagued Baroque music in those times. The larger Camerata Bern group, led by violinist Alexander van Wijnkoop, does not smooth the edges off the oddness that defines Zelenka in the ensemble pieces such as the curiously named Hipocondrie (CD 3, track 6), with its veering modulations suggesting mental unbalance. For the listener purely concerned with minutes per dollar, this is still reasonable Zelenka, but investigate newer Czech and German recordings as well.

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2 comments:

  1. Thanks very much!!!
    Is there any possibility of posting Dinorah Varsi's Legacy box set? (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Legacy-Dinorah-GENUIN-CLASSICS-GEN15353/dp/B015OPMDCS/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1453286881&sr=1-1&keywords=dinorah+varsi)

    ReplyDelete

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